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Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center completes work on new hospital unit for coronavirus patients

Mercy Medical Center in downtown Baltimore has begun treating patients with the coronavirus in its newly constructed hospital unit designed specifically for people suffering from the contagious upper respiratory disease, a hospital spokesman said Friday.

Patients with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, have used the new wing on the hospital’s 17th floor since Monday. Work on the $12.5 million expansion began in March as the first construction project launched by a state hospital in response to an expected surge in patients.

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The wing adds 32 beds to the state’s count, which Mercy President and CEO Thomas R. Mullen cited as necessary for the hospital to expand specialized acute and intensive care for COVID-19 patients.

“Public health experts and state officials agree it is also critical for Maryland to have additional hospital bed capacity — a key building block of the state’s recovery plan — in the event of a potential second COVID-19 surge," Mullen said in a statement. "Mercy and hospitals throughout the state have all worked together to be more prepared than ever to serve the people of Maryland.”

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The construction project — done in partnership with The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. — finished 64 days after Mercy submitted an emergency certificate of need for approval to the Maryland Health Care Commission, 11 days ahead of schedule. It is equipped with physiological monitoring, negative pressure rooms and expanded medical gas capabilities, Mercy said in the news release.

Since the Maryland Health Care commission approved the expansion, hospital bed occupancy in Maryland has trended downward since peaking at about 1,711 COVID-19 hospitalizations in April. On Friday, the state reported 1,076 people currently hospitalized in the state for the coronavirus. More than 9,300 people have been hospitalized since the coronavirus outbreak reached the state in March.

At a Wednesday news conference in Annapolis, Gov. Larry Hogan said that even as state metrics continue to improve and parts of the economy reopen with some restrictions attached, the virus continues to pose a threat to Marylanders.

""The virus is still out there and until we have a vaccine we can’t guarantee that a spike won’t be out there," he said. “All of these metrics allow us to safely begin stage 2 of our roadmap to recovery and take more steps that are critical to getting our economy back on track and getting Marylanders back to work.”

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