November 6, 2020
Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital COVID-19 testing site serves as a model in the transition to safe, comfortable winterized sites
Infection prevention a key consideration in the move to indoor spaces
Baltimore, MD – The Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital COVID-19 testing site, operated by the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) in partnership with Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical System, has moved indoors to accommodate patients as the weather turns cold this fall and winter. As of Wednesday, November 4, testing operations at the BCCFH have been relocated to climate-controlled space selected with patient and staff safety in mind.
“Testing is a key element of Governor Hogan’s Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Robert R. Neall. “Winterizing our testing infrastructure will allow us to continue accommodating large numbers of patients through the cold months ahead and to maintain accessible, safe and comfortable testing sites for Maryland residents.”
The BCCFH testing site’s new indoor location was chosen for its ability to safely accommodate high volumes of tests. 1,143 individuals were tested during the first day of indoor operations on Wednesday. More than 38,000 COVID-19 tests have been performed to date at the site, which is one of the busiest walk-in sites in Maryland.
With more than 32,000 square feet of floor space and 32-foot-high ceilings, there is ample room for physical distancing and air circulation at the Baltimore Convention Center’s new indoor testing space.
More than 32,000 square feet of floor space and 32-foot-high ceilings provide ample room for physical distancing and air circulation. The facility’s air-filtration system completely exchanges indoor air with fresh air from outside four times every hour. Additionally, each individual testing station at the site has a dedicated industrial-grade HEPA filter. Staff working at the site are required to wear an N-95 mask at all times.
Each testing station at the site has a dedicated industrial-grade HEPA filter.
“Our new space’s design was meticulously scrutinized by infection preventionists,” said Dr. James Ficke of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “We worked closely with MDH’s indoor testing working group and others to make sure that this site represents some of the highest standards and latest thinking on infection prevention.”
Among the many modifications that were made to the space to accommodate testing are new walls and other barriers designed to maximize infection control.
“This is one of the most innovative testing sites in the state,” said Dr. Charles Callahan from UMMS. “The infrastructure that we have in place here reflects months of planning and attention to the smallest of details. We hope that we can serve as a model of safety and patient accommodation for other testing sites across the state.”
“The Baltimore City Health Department is excited to collaborate with the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital as part of ensuring availability of testing for all of our city’s residents throughout the winter months,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. “With cold and inclement weather season upon us, expanding availability of testing in a way that meets residents’ weather-related needs will be a critical piece of the puzzle.”
Other COVID-19 testing sites across the state are taking similar action to prepare for cold weather. The MDH testing sites at the corner of Calvert and Bladen Streets in Annapolis and the Six Flags America theme park will both be converted to winterized models in the coming weeks. Testing operations at the Annapolis site will move into a new semi-permanent tent on November 16, while additional heaters are being added to the existing tents at Six Flags currently.
The Baltimore Convention Center’s indoor testing space is accessible from a pedestrian entrance on Charles St. The site is open every Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. In preparation for Thanksgiving, the site will open on Monday, November 23 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The site team also plans to expand its schedule after Thanksgiving. Details will be announced in the near future.
The Six Flags and Annapolis sites also are expanding operating hours for the winter. The Six Flags site is now open on Mondays from 2 to 6 p.m., Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. The Annapolis site will be open to the public on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. through the end of this year. At the beginning of the new year, additional testing days and extended hours of operation will be implemented.
To plan your COVID-19 test at one of the more than 225 sites located across the state, visit COVIDtest.maryland.gov. COVID-19 information and resources are available at https://coronavirus.maryland.gov.
The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement.
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