• Jon Santiago

Boston doctor explains what it's like inside Boston Hope hospital


Boston Hope hospital is caring for some of the most vulnerable patients right now, those who are homeless. Dr. Jon Santiago worked there this weekend and shared his insights with 5 Investigates.

Instead of his usual weekend shift in the Boston Medical Center emergency room, Santiago requested to work at Boston Hope with a population close to his heart. “One pair of gloves, the gown is on.”

That’s Santiago on Twitter, showing the process for putting on personal protective equipment before entering the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, which has been transformed into an auxiliary hospital called Boston Hope. “Second pair of gloves, one size larger,” he says, and then replaces his surgical mask with an N95 mask. “Hand hygiene, clean gloves, and face shield and you are ready to go.” In an interview with 5 Investigates, Santiago said inside Boston Hope he cared for patients who each had a small space for themselves. “A couple of feet wide, and, you know, the length of a bed long and separated by curtains,” he said.

Dr. Jon Santiago

“It can get hot, it can get sweaty and your voice might be muffled,” Santiago said. "But overall, I mean, we're able to get the job done.”

Santiago asked to work in the half of Boston Hope designated for people who have COVID-19, but don’t have a home where they can self-quarantine. It is being run by the Boston group Healthcare for the Homeless.

“They're dealing with very at times difficult patients with substance use issues, psychiatric issues, patients who not a lot of people want to care for” he said. “And they go out of their way.” According to Santiago, when the Pine Street Inn tested clients recently, one-third of those who were positive had no symptoms, which means they could easily transmit the virus to others without anyone knowing, including themselves. “The last thing that we want to see is multiple outbreaks happen at multiple shelters and putting people at risk, and again, overwhelming the health care system,” he said. Back on Twitter, as Santiago carefully took off his protective gear at the end of his 12-hour shift, he felt tired, but fulfilled. “It's awe inspiring to me,” he said. “That's why I continue to do what I do.”

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