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Laurel Medical Center to reopen by late April to treat coronavirus patients, part of hospital surge plan

The University of Maryland Medical System is expected to reopen its Laurel hospital and start treating patients the last week of April to help prepare for the expected increase of coronavirus cases in Maryland, officials said Thursday.

The University of Maryland Capital Region Health said the 135-bed expansion will help treat patients who are believed to be infected with COVID-19 or have tested positive for the virus.

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The hospital expansion comes after Gov. Larry Hogan called for a surge capacity of 6,000 more beds in the state. Currently, there are about four dozen acute care hospitals in the state with about 7,400 beds for adults available, which don’t including the psychiatric beds, labor and delivery beds and some others.

The Laurel hospital is one of two sites outside of the existing hospitals; the other is the Baltimore Convention Center, where there will be about 250 beds. The former Laurel Regional Hospital had been converted into an outpatient medical center after being acquired by the University of Maryland Medical System in 2017.

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The Laurel Medical Center will be staffed by nearly 400 contracted health care workers, in addition to UMMS existing staff, officials said.

Coronavirus models show the potential peak for cases in Maryland could come between mid to late April.

"We are proud to be the principal team activating this monumental surge response at UM Laurel Medical Center,” said Joseph Wright, president and interim CEO of UM Capital Region Health. "The dogged commitment and execution by the project management team is a testament to the inherent professionalism on display across the system as we respond to this unprecedented crisis”

The UM Laurel Medical Center expansion will be managed and overseen by UMMS and UM Capital Region Health leadership. No visitors will be allowed to see patients at the facility, following the same policy other UMMS hospitals have implemented.

Community testing for coronavirus will not be conducted at the facility, officials said, and nobody will be able to walk up to the hospital, unless they were admitted through the emergency department, officials said.

“We are beyond appreciative for the dedication and resilience of our employees during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Min Godwin, COO of UM Capital Region Health. “It is their sacrifices and putting the needs of our community and our patients first that is getting us though this pandemic."

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