The city of New Bedford has reopened a surge center for people recovering from COVID-19, but it’s in a different former nursing home than the facility used for the same purpose last spring.

On Monday, the city’s Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Care Center opened at 4586 Acushnet Avenue, a defunct nursing home that’s been overhauled to serve as a 123-bed medical care center. The city’s previous step-down care facility at 1123 Rockdale Avenue had 107 beds. That facility will remain closed at this time, the Office of Mayor Jon Mitchell said.

The facility is being leased by the city and operated by Essex Group Management Corporation through its nonprofit Buttonwood Healthcare division. The partnership was formed in April with the announcement that two regional care centers would be established in New Bedford. Last spring, only the Rockdale Ave. facility was used by patients.

City of New Bedford
City of New Bedford

The care center will be staffed by physicians and advanced practice nurses, Mitchell’s office said. The purpose is to relieve pressure on hospitals, including St. Luke’s, as coronavirus numbers surge in the region. The facility will house patients who still require medical care, but do not require hospitalization.

“The reopening of a surge facility in New Bedford will offer an outlet that supports our region’s busy hospitals during this resurgence of the virus. Thanks to the work of our City facilities crews and our partners at the Essex Group, the opening of the center will ensure that our health care system can continue to attend to patients during the peak of the pandemic,” said Mitchell in a statement.

Mitchell previously said the facility would not be able to open without a commitment that its patients would be eligible for MassHealth reimbursements. Earlier this month Mitchell said he worked with Essex Group CEO Frank Romano and with state officials to secure a commitment for such Medicaid coverage.

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