Two veterans who tested positive for COVID-19 at the state-run Chelsea Soldiers’ Home were moved to a newly converted ward at the Bedford VA Medical Center Thursday night.
Work was already underway to convert a short-term care ward into a COVID-19 ward, as part of the Bedford hospital's "surge plan," according to a press release. The conversion measures were scheduled to be completed next week, but the deadline was moved up after the request came in from Chelsea, said Kat Bailey, a spokeswoman for Bedford VA Medical Center.
"We just sped up the surge plan," said Bailey. "We have created a 22-bed nursing home ward specifically for COVID-positive veteran patients. So we have room for 20 more, and we hope they won't be needed, but we are prepared."
The two patients who moved to Bedford VAMC are the hospital's first COVID-19 positive inpatients. The new ward has a "negative pressure" ventilation system, which allows air to flow into the room, but not escape freely. This helps prevent cross-contamination from room to room.
“This approach minimizes the risk of infection, supports expansion to meet an increasing need for COVID-19 services and provides Veterans in routine VA care consistent access to VA care,” said Kelley Saindon, deputy nurse executive at Bedford VAMC in a press release. “Our goal is to prevent COVID-19 infections from spreading within VA, while maintaining our usual high level of care for all Veterans.”
At least two veterans have died at the Chelsea Soldiers' Home after contracting COVID-19. Nine other residents and two staffers have also tested positive.