A second nursing home in Massachusetts has delayed plans to be turned into a temporary recovery center for COVID-19 patients after a high number of its residents tested positive for the coronavirus.
AdviniaCare at Wilmington said 51 of 98 residents had tested positive “while asymptomatic,” and that it would temporarily halt plans to relocate residents to other facilities, according to a statement Friday from its owner, Pointe Group Care LLC.
The decision by the Norwood-based company came just three days after a Worcester nursing home said it would pause its plan to be turned into a recovery center after one of its residents had become infected with the respiratory illness.
Residents at AdviniaCare who tested positive will be kept separate from those who tested negative, the company said, and will receive care from Partners HealthCare. Staff members at the 142-bed facility will also be tested, according to the statement.
“To say we are surprised by the findings would be an understatement,” Chris Hannon, chief operating officer at Pointe Group Care, said in the statement. “Considering how aggressive we have been, this points to how insidious this virus is; we are fighting an invisible enemy. We are ensuring that residents with the illness get the specialized care and support that they need.”
Dr. Chuck Tsun-Zhi Pu, Partners Healthcare’s medical director for population health, said the testing protocol had helped prevent further spread of the virus.
“It makes clear the challenging clinical circumstances that we are all operating under, and the important role that testing plays in battling this pandemic,” he said in the statement.
Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Worcester said Tuesday that it would also postpone plans to become a recovery center after one of its 147 residents had tested positive for the virus.
The loss of the first two sites planned as recovery centers came just days after Governor Charlie Baker unveiled an ambitious plan to find 1,000 nursing home beds across the state that can be used to treat recovering coronavirus patients.
Baker said at a news briefing Monday afternoon that the goal of the effort was to “ensure that we have the right kinds of beds in the right places to serve people once the surge arrives.”
Spokespeople for Baker and for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday night.
In a statement issued Saturday, a spokeswoman for the Office of Health and Human Services confirmed the agency has delayed its plan to use the Wilmington facility as a recovery center. “We will continue to work at stemming the tide of this pandemic and secure other locations to serve as dedicated COVID-19 facilities,” the statement said.
Elder care facilities across Massachusetts have been a major focus of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Nursing homes, in particular, have reported clusters of infections and several deaths. On Friday, state officials said 382 people living in long-term care facilities have tested positive.
Four groups that advocate for nursing home residents have opposed Baker’s plan, including Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. Arlene Germain, the organization’s policy director, said the 51 cases at AdviniaCare show the dangers that seniors face.
“That age group is most at risk and they’re already vulnerable — that’s why they’re in a nursing home. This will go through like wildfire,” Germain said, adding later, “We are pushing very hard to keep them in place and have asked the state to look elsewhere for these 1,000 rooms.”
This story was updated with a statement from the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
Rob Weisman of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeremyCFox.
Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.