Residents of a nursing facility in Worcester are being moved out to make room for patients who require ongoing treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Worcester is the first of what will be multiple nursing homes converted for ongoing coronavirus care. It's part of an effort by the Massachusetts Department of Health to create additional capacity at hospitals that are responding to incoming cases of COVID-19.
"We understand this is not an easy thing to ask residents, families and nursing facilities to do," state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders wrote in a letter announcing the effort. "But it is necessary for the health and safety of the current residents and to ensure COVID-19 patients are receiving care in appropriate medical settings and that hospitals can [sustainably] handle the anticipated surge of care demands caused by the outbreak."
Without designated coronavirus care sites, hospitals would have to discharge COVID-19 patients to any skilled nursing facility with open capacity, which could put the rest of the healthy residents at risk, a DPH spokesperson said.
DPH did not answer WBUR's questions about how many nursing homes, or which ones, it was hoping to convert into designated COVID-19 sites.
Over the next few days, Beaumont residents will be moved to Beaumont's sister-facilities in Worcester. The state has yet to announce what other facilities might be converted into COVID-only wards.
In a video posted on Facebook on Friday, Matt Salmon, the CEO of Salmon Health and Retirement, which owns Beaumont, apologized for the stress the move would place on residents and families.