Columbia, Maryland – Working in coordination with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration, the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the D.C. Department of Health, MedStar Health announced today that it will provide medical and nursing leadership and medical, nursing and clinical staffing for the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to serve as an alternate care site to support the District’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Led by John Rockwood, Senior Vice President, MedStar Health, and President, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, the medical team will include physicians, nurses, advanced practice clinicians, lab technicians, pharmacy, and others who will be ready to offer comprehensive care for patients.
“To ensure we deliver the most medically appropriate and compassionate care at this facility, we have engaged a team from important disciplines across our system who have experience with COVID-19, including pulmonology, nursing, and patient safety,” said Rockwood. “Since MedStar Health serves one in five residents of the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., region, it makes sense that we would be part of planning and staffing this large and critical effort.”
Once District hospitals reach capacity, adult patients who are mildly ill with COVID-19 but still need a moderate level of care will be admitted to the D.C. Convention Center site. Each patient will receive treatment in a private room with a bed, toiletries, and access to hot showers. Oxygen is available in each of the rooms, if needed. Six larger “Rapid Response Rooms” with resuscitation equipment are available for patients whose symptoms worsen and need stabilization before returning to the hospital.
“We hope we never need this facility, but if we do, we’re ready to offer the highest quality care possible to COVID-19 patients,” said Jack Sava, MD, FACS, Chair of Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar’s medical team lead on the alternate care site. “This alternate care facility can serve a key role in treating COVID-19 patients who are mildly ill with the virus. This will free up space in our hospitals to care for the most critically sick patients. We are proud to be a part of this historic public health effort, and we are proud of all the MedStar Health doctors, nurses and others who have been at the forefront of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“COVID-19 has been the biggest health care challenge our community has seen in many years,” said Karol Edwards, RN, MHA, Chief Nursing Officer and Assistant Vice President of Operations for MedStar Ambulatory Services and nursing lead for the alternate care site. “However, we have worked hard to assemble a team that is up to meeting this challenge and helping patients transition from the hospital to home as quickly and safely as possible.”
Following best practices from other COVID-19 alternate care sites, operations will follow a standardized protocol for admitting patients. All staff will be equipped with personal protective equipment and have received additional training on ensuring the health and safety of colleagues and patients.
“Our hope is that as Washingtonians continue working together to blunt the spread of COVID-19, we never get to the point of needing to use this site,” said Mayor Bowser. “But if we end up needing additional hospital capacity, these beds are here and ready for patients. We are very grateful for all our federal and local partners, including MedStar Health, who worked to get this site ready to go in just a few weeks. And we are very grateful for all the people in the community who are making sacrifices and doing their part to save lives and keep our city safe and healthy.”
“We greatly appreciate the leadership of Mayor Bowser and the incredible work of the Army Corp of Engineers, federal and local partners to build and prepare this alternate care site in such a short amount of time,” said Rockwood. “This is a historic moment for us to be ready to help our community.”
About MedStar Health
At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.