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GREAT BARRINGTON — A recovery hospital for an expected overflow of coronavirus patients has stopped taking new patients.

As of early June, only two patients remained out of a total of five since the start of the pandemic, according to Christopher Duncan, director of operations at nearby Timberlyn Heights Rehabilitation and Care Center, which operates the state-designated COVID-19 positive recovery facility on Maple Avenue (Route 23).

Management plans to have remaining patients discharged by Friday, he said.

It opened in the former Great Barrington Nursing & Rehabilitation Center on April 24 as part of a statewide effort to prepare for a possible surge that could overwhelm local hospitals. While it would not provide acute care, it could treat older patients who still needed nursing.

It opened with 10 beds, with plans to increase capacity if needed.

The state Department of Health had asked and paid for Timberlyn Heights to operate at a location closed this spring by its parent company, Bear Mountain Health Care. The building is currently for sale.

Duncan said the facility had a circulating staff of roughly 20 for the around-the-clock care. That included nurses, housekeeping, laundry and doctors through remote visits.

The state's decision was made quickly as it scrambled to prepare for the unknown. This is why town officials never knew the facility would land in their town until it did.

"We found out when the governor announced it," said Stephen Bannon, chairman of the town Select Board. "I think it would have been nice if the town was a least notified prior and we could have at least asked questions. But it was a pandemic and emergency and the state had a right to do it."

"It's not all bad, because if we needed those beds they were here, and people have to be treated somewhere, said Select Board Vice Chairman Ed Abrahams. "But I also understand the fear and the risk," he added, referring to residents expressing concern that staff coming and going from the facility could create additional illness.

That the facility was so lightly used is "a good thing," Duncan said.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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