Baltimore Convention Center marks year as field hospital

Posted at 8:58 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 23:12:28-04

BALTIMORE — For years we went there for youth sports competitions and collectors fairs, but it turned into a beacon of hope on the Harbor through the pandemic.

While there is still a long way to go, Tuesday night the folks who made the field hospital at the convention center possible took a moment to look back on what they’ve done so far.

More than 3,000 people have worked the fronts lines to transform and operate the convention center as a field hospital, testing site, and now mass vaccination site.

The first COVID death in Maryland was mid March and the first in Baltimore City was 10 days later.

More than 900 Baltimoreans and 8,500 Marylanders have died from the virus.

This field hospital was set up to handle an unknown surge during uncertain times.

As a hospital, testing and eventually vaccination site.

Maryland Department of Health Dennis Schrader called the work done there a national model.

“We took the 250 beds, we didn’t ask for the comfort, we didn’t ask for 3,000 beds,” said Schrader. “We weren’t about show, we were about substance. That’s what you have done, you’ve kept this thing going and we’re just coming out of our fourth wave and all of the uncertainty.”

The field hospital is a collaboration of Baltimore’s two renowned Hospital Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland Medical.

The task for the group was to plan and deliver a 250 bed contingency hospital to care for COVID-19 patients.

A year later the leaders of those hospitals thanked the people who made it happen.

“You have chosen to lean into this fight and demonstrate what we can accomplish when we lean in together,” said UMMS President and CEO Mohan Suntha.

Our coming together was really around serving our community and you all came together as a team in a very powerful way to help us save lives,” said The Johns Hopkins Health System President Kevin Sowers.

The space has evolved and changed with the needs of the community.

Administering over 103,000 tests and looking after over 1,400 patients. Administering antibodies to more than 2,000 people to treat COVID and now putting over 100,000 vaccines and counting into the arms of people who need them.

Dr. James Ficke is the Director of the field hospital and talked about the impact they’ve had on the future and the overall fight against the virus.

“We have published 5 studies in physical therapy, contingency health care, infection prevention, in recruitment in physicians to such an event as this,” said Ficke. "Our prospective rapid antigen test, the largest prospective of assessment of COVID diagnosis in our country.“

Even though we are nearing the end of this current surge and the vaccine distribution is progressing, the people running the facility say they don’t plan on slowing or shutting down any time soon.