Senior care units prepare for possibility of staff shortages as they battle COVID-19

Local News

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Elderwood, A network of senior care facilities in Western New York, is making plans in case staff members come down with the coronavirus. At least one employee, who works at Elderwood’s Hamburg location, already has the disease, said Chuck Hayes, Elderwood’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications.

Elderwood has a staff of just under 2,000 across its 17 Western New York facilities. Hayes says staff health is something they need to keep a close eye on.

“We may have a staff member who comes down with COVID-19 or they may have it in their home,” Hayes noted. “That puts a strain on our staffing.”

And they’re making plans for that. Hayes says Elderwood will be offering expedited training for CNAs and other aides. That’s not all.

“(We will offer) refresher training for licensed clinical professionals like RNs who might currently be serving in an administrative role. We’re refreshing their skills and getting them up to speed so they can return to a clinical role at the bedside if needed,” Hayes said.

In March, Elderwood established a dedicated COVID-19 wing at its Amherst location. That unit has treated 11 patients, Hayes said, the first of whom was discharged today after recovering from coronavirus.

Across all Elderwood facilities, they’ve dealt with 16 cases. Hayes believes these buildings are the safest place for a compromised senior to be, given all of the protocols in place that don’t exist outside their walls. But there are still challenges.

“The real challenges are in things like the acquisition of PPEs,” Hayes said. “That’s a challenge for all health care providers.”

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