BIDMC physicians and staff were instrumental in the launch of the City’s new field hospital, Boston Hope

The recently-opened Boston Hope is a 1,000-bed field hospital built to increase bed capacity and clinical support during the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides care for patients recovering from COVID-19 who do not require hospital acute care, and for unsheltered individuals infected with the virus. Housed inside the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston Hope includes six acute care suites, 52 nurse stations, 48 bathroom facilities, a physical therapy suite and a chapel.

Boston Hope was a group effort led by Partners Healthcare in collaboration with Boston-area hospitals, city and state officials, and US Army reserves, with a common mission to support vulnerable members of the community during the COVID-19 surge.

“It’s an amazing thing that happened over just seven days. Brigadier General Jack Hammond compared the process to building a plane as it went down the runway,” says Meg Femino, Senior Director of Emergency Management at BIDMC. “There’s a great need for displaced patients to have somewhere to recover safely in isolation.”

A number BIDMC physicians and staff were instrumental in the launch of the new field hospital, while others continue to staff the medical center and triage the transfer of BIDMC patients to Boston Hope.

Mike Yaffe, MD, PhD, Acute Care Surgery, Trauma and Critical Care, was involved in the planning and operations of Boston Hope’s Acute/Critical Care Unit. Femino and Yaffe have extensive experience in high-pressure situations: Yaffe as a decorated veteran of the war in Afghanistan, and Femino as a major component of BIDMC’s emergency response to the Boston Marathon bombings. Both leveraged their expertise and network of colleagues to support Boston Hope’s opening.

“It’s important as a hospital to be able to work together toward a common goal with our colleagues. During a crisis in Boston, we do that really well; it cements the connectivity we have in the city,” Femino explains. “The reason it opened so quickly is because everybody gave whatever they could.”

“Just like with the Marathon, all of a sudden, everything else fades away and everyone is very collaborative,” Yaffe noted. “In times of severe need, all of these different Boston institutions have come together and work well together.”

Akiva Leibowitz, MD, Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, was also involved in initial planning. Leibowitz, along with a number of Anesthesia and Emergency Department staff, faculty and fellows, then stepped up to staff the unit at Boston Hope 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

“We are staffing Boston Hope’s acute/critical care unit,” Leibowitz says. “We all recognize our duty to provide the wider community with the care that they need and allow BIDMC to focus on acute patients in hospital.”

Nadav Levy, MD, a fellow in Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, is leading acute care operations and quality for Boston Hope. His colleagues describe Levy’s contribution to Boston Hope as both enormous and remarkable.

“He’s been boots on the ground and he’s been absolutely amazing,” Yaffe said.

From the bustle of the acute/critical care unit, Levy took a few moments to reflect on the progress as the pandemic and the needs of patients continue to evolve.

“We just practiced our first mock code using a mannequin and activated the whole sequence. Now we have a setup that can take care of patients in a state of emergency,” he shares. “Initially we thought we would focus on respiratory issues, but every patient has their own medical backgrounds, from hypertension to seizures. We’re seeing everything as they recover from COVID-19. We realized we have to be ready for patients needing emergency help. So, we adopted and adjusted. Every patient we see avoids getting sent to another hospital, a great contribution in a time of limited resources.”

Now that Boston Hope has been up and running for over a month, Tracy Lee, DNP, RN, BIDMC’s Senior Nursing Director for Case Management, works closely to coordinate the transfer of patients from BIDMC to the field hospital. Since April 11, the day after Boston Hope opened, Lee’s team has discharged over 30 patients from BIDMC’s care to the field hospital.

“It is wonderful to see patients being discharged from the Medical Center after recovering from COVID-19. Boston Hope Hospital allows patients to transition safely from the acute care setting to continue their recovery before going home. Another positive thing is the collaboration between many healthcare systems, the city and the state to support this initiative.”

Lee’s sentiments were echoed by her colleagues who agree that the creation of Boston Hope was an exceptional feat.

“This was such a complex mission with so many moving parts, but it went from zero to 100 in almost no time at all,” Leibowitz reflected. “Even as we will need to adapt, there’s a proof of concept and I know we’ll be able to do it. It’s a very impressive achievement for this organization.”

BIDMC staff and faculty working in the acute/critical care unit at Boston Hope include:

  • Aidan Sharkey, MD
  • Akiva Leibowitz, MD
  • Andrew Marshall, MD
  • Caleb Dresser, MD
  • Carrie Tibbles, MD
  • Christopher Watson, MD
  • Galina Korsunsky, MD
  • Jamie Adler, MD
  • John Kaminski, MD
  • Joshua Joseph, MD
  • Julie Petro, MD
  • Katerina Wilson, MD
  • Laura Burke, MD
  • Lindsay Rubenstein, MD
  • Matthew Wong, MD
  • Michael Yaffe, MD
  • Nadav Levy, MD
  • Oren Mechanic, MD
  • Paragi Rana, MD
  • Rodolfo Loureiro, MD
  • Ruma Bose, MD
  • Victor Polshin, MD
  • Sichao Xu, MD

In addition to the acute/critical care unit, a number of other BIDMC staff have donated their time and expertise to Boston Hope, ensuring it continues to remain an invaluable resource for the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts.