BALTIMORE (WMAR) — To better prepare for the surge of COVID-19 cases, the University of Maryland Medical Center is opening up a new unit to add patient capacity.
It's only unit of its kind in Baltimore city. The modular care unit is just down the street from Shock Trauma and it opens Wednesday, adding 16 more beds to the fight against COVID-19.
"It’s intent is really to increase the care capacity that we have at the University of Maryland Medical Center," said Gregory Schrank, an Associate Hospital Epidemiologist at UMMC.
The extra beds will add to UMMC's existing inventory of 160 ICU beds.
They aren’t at capacity yet, but they are feeling the impacts of the surge in cases we are seeing nationwide.
"Really this unit is coming on board and going live at exactly the right time," said Schrank.
It's a former valet parking lot. From concept to building and opening for operations, it only took five months, done in partnership with the State of Maryland.
Each room is negative pressure capable and had the same state-of-the-art technology as the hospitals, including a monitor outside each patient room that allows the nurse to check vitals while conserving PPE.
Medical center staff said patients admitted to the temporary unit will have the same level of care as patients housed inside the hospitals.
"Some of the patients that we will care for here may still require support from a mechanical ventilator or breathing machine or significant amounts of oxygen therapy... even dialysis," said Schrank.
The unit is prepared to care for a broad spectrum of needs. Some patients will be actively infected, others will be recovering.
"We [at the hospital] have cared for a large number of critically ill people who are been infected with COVID-19 and that’s often accompanied by a long recovery period that typically requires ongoing intensive amount of nursing care at the bedside," said Schrank.
They already have identified several patients that will move in on Wednesday.