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Elderwood will care for COVID-19 patients at Amherst facility

Posted at 11:11 AM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 23:20:24-04

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — Elderwood has established a dedicated facility for COVID-19 patients. The organization says the Elderwood at Amherst Skilled Nursing Facility on Bailey Avenue will house patients, likely within the next several days.

Some family members, however, of residents in the facility fear their loved one's health is being put at risk. Cathy Welton's mother has Alzheimer's and has lived at Elderwood for over three years. She said her number one concern is her mother's health.

"Not just her, but everybody in that place is what they're classifying the most vulnerable to get this, and then to put them down the hall from them, it just doesn't make sense to me," she said.

In a press release, Elderwood explained that the 22-bed unit at the Amherst site is preparing for special isolation and infection control. The move will help care for patients while also taking pressure off the hospital system.

“Our comprehensive infection control procedures are designed to effectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within our facility – making this a much more controlled environment than any place out in the community,” said Rebecca Littler, RN, chief nursing officer for Elderwood. "Elderwood at Amherst’s unique layout provides an ideal opportunity to isolate COVID-19 residents on a dedicated unit.”

“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,” said Dr. Paul Shields, medical director for Elderwood at Amherst , vice president for post-acute care ant General Physician, PC, and a member of the COVID-19 Task Force at Kaleida Health.

Welton and her sister's said they felt completely blindsided by the announcement. They found out on Saturday. The siblings said family members should've been able to weigh in before a decision was made.

Shocked by the news, the sisters are considering bringing their mother home, but don't want her to lose the care she's received for more than three years.

"That's her home, that's not their stop by get better and leave," Welton said. "That's their home, they live there."

The family said the news just adds to what's already been a tough experience for families with loved ones in nursing homes.

“We’re concerned obviously, and a little confused as to how that would be allowed when we cant even go in to go see her," said granddaughter, Natalie Armon. "We haven’t been able to go see her in four weeks, and now they’re bringing in people that are confirmed with the virus.”

Elderwood at Amherst is a 92-bed skilled nursing facility. The COVID-19 patients will be cared for in one wing of the facility.