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Elderwood at Amherst to open COVID-19 unit

The skilled nursing facility will open a 22-bed unit exclusively for COVID-19 patients.

AMHERST, N.Y. — On Monday, Elderwood at Amherst, a skilled nursing facility, announced that it will open a 22-bed unit for post-acute care of coronavirus patients. 

The unit will house patients who have stabilized in order to make more room in local hospitals.The patients will be isolated in the special unit with its own entrance, physical barriers, and even separate food service. 

In a statement, Dr. Paul Shields, medical director for Elderwood at Amherst, said that they know that some facilities will need to step up to alleviate the pressure on the hospital system. 

"What we’ve been able to establish at Elderwood at Amherst is exactly what is needed right now - a post acute setting that can care for these patients while maintaining best practices in preventing spread,” Shields said. “The Elderwood staff are highly trained and have been specifically preparing to operate in this particular environment. We are working with Kaleida health’s supply chain management team to ensure there are adequate supplies of proper personal protective equipment for the staff.”

Some people have questioned or outright criticized the move on social media posts because they fear a potential exposure to the vulnerable elderly residents of the Amherst facility. 

Dr. Shields said in response "The risk for spread across the community is what it is - the creation of this unit does not increase the risk of community spread to the building in any way, shape, or form."

Elderwood anticipates the unit to fill up fast. They will start admitting patients within the next few days, according to a statement.  

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