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First patients admitted to St. Joseph Campus, now a Covid-19 hospital

The first patients were admitted Thursday to the Covid-19 Treatment Facility at St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga, which Catholic Health has transformed into a coronavirus-only hospital.

"Treatment units at the site are being 'phased-in' to help alleviate pressure at other Catholic Health hospitals and support the Governor’s plan to increase surge capacity," according to a Catholic Health release. "The campus is a 'direct admit' COVID-19 Treatment Facility, not a walk-in facility, which means patients will only be admitted with a doctor’s order from another Catholic Health facility."

The facility will have 55 to 60 critical care beds and 100 to 120 beds in all for Covid-19 patients.

Designating the facility as a Covid-19 hospital will allow ventilator units and personal protection equipment – still in short supply – to be consolidated and protect other patients, Mark A. Sullivan, president and CEO of Catholic Health, said.

"By concentrating our critical care staff in this area, we will be able to manage our infection control better to minimize risk and exposure to other patients within our own facilities," said Dr. Kevin Shiley, an infectious disease specialist at Catholic Health.

More details about the Covid-19 facility are expected to be released Friday.

In the meantime, Catholic Health is building up its inventory of ventilators, critical to saving the lives of the sickest coronavirus patients at the new facility as well as at the system's other hospitals. Catholic Health is also buying and receiving donated personal protective equipment for medical staff.

In addition, medical triage tents have been set up outside the emergency departments at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Sisters of Charity Hospital Main St. Campus, Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and the Mercy Ambulatory Care Center in Orchard Park "to protect the safety of all our patients and staff, in preparation for a potential increase in patients seeking care," Catholic Health said in a statement.

"The tents, which have heat, light and medical record capabilities, will allow us to safely triage and assess those who can be evaluated and discharged to home quickly, from those needing further testing or inpatient care," Catholic Health said.

St. Joseph to become first Covid-19 hospital in New York

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