Long-term care facilities to begin opening dedicated COVID-19 units

Nursing homes in Tacoma, Shoreline, Bellingham to handle patients from other locations

Three nursing homes in the Puget Sound region will open COVID-19 units in the coming weeks to house residents recovering from the coronavirus and to prevent its spread to other long-term care facility residents.

A total of 135 beds will be available at Avamere Transitional Care of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Richmond Beach Rehab in Shoreline and Avamere Bellingham Health Care and Rehab in Bellingham, according to a state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) news release Monday. All three nursing homes are owned by Oregon-based Avamere Family of Companies.

“Long-term care facilities across Washington have made incredible strides in a short period of time to combat COVID-19 by practicing proper infection control, limiting visitors and quarantining COVID-positive residents,” said Bill Moss, DSHS’ Aging and Long-Term Support Administration assistant secretary, in the news release. “The creation of COVID-19 units is the next step we need to take to ensure we are protecting Washingtonians who are most at risk for getting the virus.”

The COVID-only wings will be cordoned off from the rest of the facilities and have their own entrances and dedicated staff. COVID-positive residents will be moved there after discharging from the hospital or transferring from another long-term care facility.

“The development of a COVID-19 recovery unit in concert with the state was a natural fit for Avamere in serving this need for our community,” said Elizabeth Burns, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the Avamere Family of Companies. “We pride ourselves on a history of proactive, highly skilled, compassionate clinical care. This opportunity has given our health care heroes the path to demonstrate what they were prepared to do. It is a rally call to serve and care for the most vulnerable populations with a sense of urgency, purpose and passion.”

Once a resident has recovered and has two negative COVID-19 tests over a period of at least two weeks, they will return to their original long-term care facility or other residential setting of their choice.

“We are grateful for the relationship we have with DSHS and their leadership in developing units like this,” said Brad Litle, Avamere Skilled Nursing Facility Division president. “It is a privilege to be a part of serving our community in this capacity.”

DSHS is in discussions with several more long-term care facilities throughout the state about opening COVID-19 units.


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