WALLINGFORD — A COVID-19 recovery facility is scheduled to open on Kondracki Lane.
The state Department of Public Health is establishing the COVID-19 recovery facility at the Quinnipiac Valley Center nursing home, dedicating a portion of the facility to treating coronavirus patients leaving the hospital.
Local police announced the site in a statement Tuesday.
“A Covid-19 Recovery Facility is an alternate care site that will accept Covid positive patients discharged from the hospital who no longer need acute hospital level care, freeing up a hospital bed, but (who) also need skilled nursing care or ...additional support,” Police Lt. Cheryl Bradley said in the statement.
Lori Mayer, a spokeswoman for Quinnipiac Valley Center, confirmed the nursing home is “number six on the state's list of facilities being designated as COVID recovery facilities.”
Mayer said there is no “go live date yet.” Company officials “are waiting for the state to let them know when they can open,” she added.
The statement from police indicated that the recovery facility was being “established” as of Wednesday.
“Covid Recovery Facilities are existing nursing homes that will accept patients discharged from the hospital who previously resided in a nursing home setting but were denied re-admission to their original nursing home because of the facility’s inability or incapacity to care for these patients,” the police statement said.
Police said the recovery facility will begin operating on with 34 beds, less than a quarter of the nursing home’s total capacity.
Mayer said she could not confirm the number of beds.
“The details are still being worked through so I don’t want to speak about things that are not finalized yet,” she said.
“The Wallingford Department of Public Health will oversee the local response to the facility and will coordinate alongside the Wallingford Fire and Emergency Medical Services as necessary,” Bradley wrote.
An executive order signed by Gov. Ned Lamont on April 11 authorized Public Health Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell to designate COVID recovery facilities through the duration of the pandemic.
Most facilities are nursing homes that already had a significant number of patients testing positive for the virus or which closed in the past few years and could rapidly be pressed back into service.
Westfield Rehab Center on Westfield Road in Meriden is among the closed center set to reopen as recovery facilities.
“Residents of long-term care facilities represent our most vulnerable population during this pandemic, as the virus can spread quickly within the enclosed environment such as a nursing home,” Coleman-Mitchell said in a statement accompanying Lamont’s executive order. “We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure our nursing home residents get the care they need and that nursing home staff are protected with enough equipment.
“These new COVID-19 recovery facilities will provide hundreds of new beds for COVID-19 care all over the state, and this will help to make hospital beds available to absorb the surge of hospitalizations we anticipate in the next couple of weeks,” Coleman-Mitchell said.
Existing patients residing at nursing homes designated as recovery facilities who show no symptoms and test negative for the virus will be able to transfer to a different facility if they wish.
To assist the providers with the additional strain caused by the virus, the state is increasing payments to nursing homes by 10 percent and is offering an additional $600 per day to homes designated as COVID recovery facilities.
Patients at non-designated nursing homes who test positive for the virus are not expected to be transferred out, but will be moved to a quarantine wing to limit the risk to other patients. Should they require hospitalization, however, they may be discharged to a recovery facility rather than their usual nursing home until they have fully recuperated.
“The recovery centers that we’re standing up … will be primarily a location for patients that are being discharged from our acute care hospitals who don’t need that level of care anymore, but are not yet either completely recovered or are ready to go back from where they had come from. And so that will be an opportunity to help decompress our hospitals and free up capacity in the hospitals,” Josh Geballe, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services, said during Lamont’s Tuesday briefing.
The decision to create recovery facilities is widely supported by nursing home operators, said Matthew Barrett, president of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, since it will aid their efforts to limit the number of patients with coronavirus among their population.
“The governor's direction is spot on correct that you need to address isolation,” he said. “ … otherwise they would be interspersed in the general nursing home population and that would contribute significantly to the further spread of the virus.”
Nursing homes have already created quarantine wards to observe new patients for 14 days before they’re given a room alongside patients without symptoms of the virus and patients who test positive for the virus while at nursing homes are being treated in quarantine unless they require a hospital level of care.
The additional capacity allows hospitals to discharge patients who no longer need the level of treatment provided by intensive care units, but who are not ready to return home, said David Skoczulek, vice president of business development for iCare Health Network, which operates Silver Springs Care Center in Meriden and 10 other nursing homes in the state.
“It's definitely going to help. I think the question that's on everyone's mind is if it's enough — are there enough beds to accommodate the need?” he said.
The routine patients treated at nursing homes are among those most vulnerable to the virus, Skoczulek said, including those with compromised immune systems, recovering from surgeries and the elderly. While the virus’ spread has proven to be as aggressive and rapid as many in the healthcare industry initially worried, Skoczulek said they’re already starting to see some patients recover and ultimately test negative for the virus.
“Recovery is possible and we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.