New Bedford reopens surge center for recovering COVID-19 patients

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NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — COVID-19 patients who no longer require hospitalization but still need medical care can now continue their recovery at the newly reopened surge center in New Bedford.

The Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Care Center was set up by the city and Essex Group Management Corp. to ease the burden on local hospitals. The 123-bed facility began accepting patients on Monday, and management expects it to be filled up by mid-February.

“The capacity is just getting so high and they are trying to decrease their census in the hospital, so they are really the valve check on the system,” Essex Group Management Corp. COO Scott Picone said.

Patients hospitalized across Massachusetts and Rhode Island will be sent to the facility which, at its peak, will be staffed by upwards of 100 physicians and nurses.

“Without a question, if we can free up hospitals’ beds as we did the first time around in the spring, then we have done our job,” Essex Group Management Corp. President Frank Romano said.

They anticipate the surge center will accept patients for about four months, according to Romano, since the need will lessen once the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available. At that point, he said the facility could be turned into a vaccination site.

“We have the room, we have the nursing staff, so we theoretically could put shots in the arm,” Romano added.

The surge center expects to admit eight to ten patients per day, and on average, they will remain there to receive care for about two weeks.

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