Redeployment During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gary Boas

On Monday, April 6, as MGH prepared for the expected surge in COVID-19 patients, the hospital’s leadership announced the likely redeployment of significant numbers of non-clinical workers. MGH had now entered the “all hands on deck” phase of the pandemic, where the need for additional support staff was urgent enough that any employee of the hospital might be called upon to aid in its COVID-19 response. Those who might be reassigned to clinical areas included the hospital’s research workforce: not least, staff from the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging.

The Center’s Matthew Larrabee, a research technician with the Laboratory for Computational Neuroimaging, was among the first to be enlisted. Larrabee received the call on Monday and, by 7 o’clock Tuesday morning, was in a pediatric ICU refitted to serve critical COVID-19 patients. His primary responsibility there was as a “listener” – listening for alerts from the portable ventilators now supplementing the hospital’s usual supply of ventilators – but he quickly dove in to help the clinical workers in any way he could.

On Thursday, only days after he had been redeployed, he joined the Center’s Allison Stevens for a webinar discussion of his experience thus far. Speaking to members of the Martinos community, many of whom knew they might also be reassigned, he described a remarkably friendly clinical staff, a ready supply of masks and gloves, and a positive experience overall.

Following are highlights from the discussion.