Dear campus community,
Across the country, Governors have called upon universities to provide accommodation for additional hospital beds should the surge in COVID-19 cases overwhelm capacity in regional hospitals. As one would expect of institutions committed to society’s greater good, universities have strongly responded to this unprecedented global healthcare emergency. I write to you today to announce that UMass Dartmouth, in partnership with Southcoast Health, is hosting a COVID-19 surge hospital in the Tripp Athletic Center. This action is being led by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) under the direction of Governor Baker in the effort to prepare our Commonwealth for any scenario as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Construction on 140 beds and the necessary infrastructure to care for patients will begin this week and will support Southeastern Massachusetts should our hospitals reach their maximum capacity. As of right now, our region’s hospitals are holding strong. The surge hospital on our campus will only be used should a dramatic spike in positive cases occur.
Please know that we are taking every precaution with this facility to ensure the health and wellbeing of our campus community. The patients that may be treated in the temporary facility and the healthcare workers will be confined to the Tripp Athletic Center with separate parking and security. No healthcare workers or patients will be permitted to enter any campus building other than the Tripp Athletic Center. Once the need for the facility ends, MEMA will clean and disinfect the facility completely before we bring it back online.
UMass Dartmouth prides itself on our connection to our community. Whether it be volunteer opportunities for students or community-focused research by faculty, it is one of the defining features of our University. Now that our community needs us in dire times, we will step up.
I am proud of our University hosting this site. We do not back away from challenges, and we remain united internally and with our external partners to make sure that everyone is taken care of in any scenario.
There will be many questions and concerns and I assure you, there will more details on this to follow. I hope that you continue to remain healthy and stay safe as we navigate these times together. #UMassDTogether
Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.