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Boston's Carney Hospital To Have Dedicated Care Center For Coronavirus Patients

BOSTON (CBS) -- Carney Hospital in Boston will have the nation's first dedicated care center to treat only coronavirus patients. Starting Tuesday the Dorchester facility run by Steward Health Care will be converted to include negative pressure wards and special equipment needed to treat critical cases.

"We have been preparing for a while," said Dr. Joseph Weinstein, the Chief Medical Officer for Steward Health Care. To say they've never dealt with a crisis like this would be an understatement. "What you're seeing in reaction to it, is also unprecedented," Weinstein said.

There have been 218 positive cases of coronavirus reported in Massachusetts, where Steward has 10 hospitals. Those other hospitals will continue caring for patients as normal.

"By locating COVID-19 patients in a focused environment, Steward can better dedicate the necessary resources, equipment and expertise to provide COVID-19 patients focused care and the very best opportunity for a full recovery," Steward said in a statement.

The hospital has a floor, 11 beds, dedicated to coronavirus patients, though none have arrived yet. Staff who take care of those patients won't move to other parts of the hospital.

"It allows patients to be treated in a way that does not require other patients to potentially be contaminated by the virus itself," said Weinstein.

The floor's negative pressure is to contain airborne contaminants and there will be specialty equipment, like ventilators.

"We hope that will give them the best chance of a successful outcome," Weinstein said.

There will also be a testing tent outside of the Emergency Room so people who need a coronavirus test don't have to go inside.

Steward says it plans to replicate this model in the other eight states where it has hospitals. Remote testing sites at Massachusetts Steward locations are also set to pop up this week in Haverhill, Norwood, and Taunton; patients will be able to get swabbed and screened for the virus in their cars at "drive-through" locations.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story indicated that Carney Hospital was treating only coronavirus patients. They have since clarified that it is a dedicated care center within the hospital.

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