WORCESTER (CBS) — A nursing home in Worcester will become the first dedicated coronavirus treatment center. Residents are now being moved out of Beaumont at Worcester.

“Governor Baker, in conjunction with the MA Department of Public Health and UMass Medical Center, called on Beaumont at Worcester to become the first nursing home in the Commonwealth entirely devoted to COVID-19 patients in recovery. Out of a sense of duty, we said yes,” the center wrote on Facebook.

Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center at Westborough, the sister center of Beaumont at Worcester, said it would begin receiving residents from Beaumont at Worcester over the next few days. Matt Salmon, CEO of Salmon Health and Retirement, who owns the centers, said in an announcement video that they hope to have all residents out of the building by Wednesday.

“This personally has been a very, very difficult decision and I have been anguishing over it for a few days now because I know the amount of disruption that is this is going to cause for our residents and families who trusted us to take care of their loved ones in Worcester,” Salmon said. “I can’t, in my role, think of any other solution that doesn’t put all of our seniors at risk, not just the ones in our buildings, but the ones throughout the Commonwealth.”

Janet Tuiskula, whose father lives at the nursing home, said she got a call about the move Friday around noon. A day later, the 91-year-old man was moved from his home at Beaumont at Worcester to the company’s Westboro location.

“We don’t have that opportunity to meet with the staff or to interview them,” Tuiskula said.

Tuiskula said she fears her father won’t be able to handle the change.

“He’s 91 and I don’t know how much longer I have,” she said. “I fear this could lessen his life because his dementia might advance more as these events do.”

To add stress to the situation, Tuiskula said she doesn’t know when she’ll be able to see her father, let alone talk to him

“My job is to protect my dad. They took that away from me,” Tuiskula said. “He might not understand. He doesn’t know them. He doesn’t know the location.”

The nursing home is just steps from UMass Memorial Medical Center, which is partnering with the state. The hospital said the Beaumont was the best choice because its staff and facilities are already equipped to care for the sick.

The Massachusetts Senior Care Association released a statement Saturday: “Conversion of a separate, self-contained health care facility will not only provide vital recovery services to those stricken with COVID-19, but will help protect the public health and the health of nursing home residents across the Commonwealth who will become increasingly vulnerable unless the curve is flattened…While we recognize this is a difficult decision for the Beaumont Worcester community, including residents and their family members, we unequivocally support the collaborative effort between state health authorities, hospitals, and SALMON Health & Retirement on this proactive effort to provide COVID-19 patients with the focused care necessary to ensure the best recovery.”

 

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