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Catholic Health converts hospital wings to Covid-19 units

Catholic Health has converted wings at all of its area hospitals into dedicated treatment areas for suspected Covid-19 patients.

The system has set up "closed" Covid-19 units at Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Mount St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston and Kenmore Mercy Hospital in the Town of Tonawanda, said spokeswoman JoAnn Cavanaugh.

Hospitals here and across the country are taking similar steps to safely process an expected surge in Covid-19 patients.

Kaleida Health, this region's largest hospital system, two weeks ago opened up dedicated Covid-19 space at its Buffalo General Medical Center -- including the entire 15th and 16th floors -- and its Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Amherst, spokesman Michael Hughes said.

Catholic Health already had transformed its St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga into a facility focused on caring for patients with the novel coronavirus.

The system retrofitted patient care, nursing or surgical units at the various hospitals, Cavanaugh said.

At Kenmore Mercy, the hospital said it was able to make this move because elective surgeries are canceled for now at the facility on Elmwood Avenue.

Staff still are performing cardiac, neurological and other non-elective surgeries in the hospital's operating rooms, Cavanaugh said.

Patients who otherwise would have remained in this surgical wing have been moved to another surgical unit within the hospital, said Dawn Cwierley, a spokeswoman for Kenmore Mercy.

The former surgical wing now is set up as a separate, "closed" unit to house noncritical Covid-19 patients and those who are waiting for the results of their tests to come back, Cwierley said.

The wing has restricted access for enhanced infection control and conservation of personal protective equipment, officials said.

"This enables us to provide more efficient care, while protecting the safety of our patients and staff," Cwierley said.

Catholic Health would, if necessary, move patients who test positive for Covid-19 from Kenmore Mercy to the St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga.

Catholic Health last month converted its St. Joseph Campus to a coronavirus treatment center. The system also was setting up medical triage tents outside the emergency rooms at its hospitals and at its Mercy Ambulatory Care Center in Orchard Park.

Cavanaugh said the system would not say how many confirmed or suspected Covid-19 patients are at each of its hospitals.

She said the system overall as of Thursday was treating 70 confirmed Covid-19 patients – including 39 patients at St. Joseph – and 42 suspected cases of coronavirus.

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

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