With COVID-19 cases soaring and local hospitals nearing capacity, the city of New Bedford plans to open a dedicated COVID-19 recovery facility Jan. 18.
The city leased the former nursing home last year. It will serve as a step-down unit for hospital patients and a place to care for nursing home residents who test positive.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said having a dedicated facility will help protect others from infection.
“We've maintained that the primary objective right now is to protect the most vulnerable, so that they can have an opportunity to get the vaccine,” he said.
The facility will also help relieve capacity pressure on hospitals.
Mitchell said Southcoast Health — which operates Tobey, St. Luke’s, and Charlton hospitals — has reached 93 percent of capacity.
“We're trying to make sure that our hospital system can work effectively, so that it can treat both COVID and non-COVID patients,” he said.
The facility at 4586 Acushnet Ave. will be operated by Essex Group, a nursing home management company. It has 123 beds.
On Cape Cod, step-down facilities run by Cape Cod Healthcare last spring have not yet reopened.
Mitchell said such facilities need state approval to receive payments from MassHealth.
“That took a little bit of time for the state to agree to,” he said.