Vaccination levels remain low, Heywood reports three deaths


For The Athol Daily News
Published: 9/13/2021 1:57:34 PM
Modified: 9/13/2021 1:57:34 PM

GARDNER — Heywood Healthcare President and CEO Win Brown gave his weekly briefing last Friday, Sept. 10, and the news was not good.

“Kids are back in school and Covid is in our midst and surging,” he began, “I can tell you we’ve had over 100 positive findings in our Covid testing in the last two and half days, and it’s still climbing. That’s an incredible number for us and it really is stressing our resources.

“At Heywood, we have 14 positive Covid — three in ICU and three in our walk-in unit, and one ‘rule out’ as well.”

His report didn’t get any better.

“We also had three patients pass away this week from Covid,” Brown continued. “We were diligently caring for (them) but we were unable to get them through. It is real and it is here. And our hearts really go out to those families whose loved ones passed away.

“It’s a reminder to all of us how deadly this virus is, and I know different parts of social media like to play it down and say it isn’t anything. It is something unbelievable.”

Brown said about 95 percent of the staff of Heywood is now vaccinated. All employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1.

“Yesterday, the president announced that all health care workers in the country need to be vaccinated and I personally appreciate that vote of support for the work that we were already doing,” he said. “It also puts everyone on a level playing field in making sure that our health care workers are safe and understand how important it is.”

Brown urged people to follow the basic steps which should be taken to help reduce the likelihood of infection.

“Just make sure you do everything you can to stay safe: hand hygiene, wearing your masks, social distancing, and talking to your loved ones and friends who are not yet vaccinated and convince them to get vaccinated.

“That’s your ‘job’ this week, to get that done. Please make sure you get that done.”

In the email accompanying his briefing, Brown included a graph showing the sharp spike in cases in Heywood’s service area in the past month. The graph indicates the number of cases per 100,000 people in each community.

The week of July 22, there were no cases in Athol. In the course of a week, that number jumped to just over 11. And for the week of Aug. 26, the rate of infection stood at about 14.5; a startling jump in the space of four weeks. The rate for Orange skyrocketed from zero the week of Aug. 12 to more than 20 just two weeks later. Templeton registered an incidence rate of over 18, while Winchendon’s rate stood at more than 19, both for the week of Aug. 26.

In his briefing of Sept. 3, Brown attributed to sharp spike in cases to two factors; the virulence of the Delta strain of Covid and to the failure of area residents to get vaccinated.

Brown said Heywood Healthcare had received several inquiries from people who said they lost their vaccination card and wanted to know how to replace it.

“You can get a new one,” he explained, “by filling out a form and emailing to and we’ll work to get you a new replacement card.

“Also know that we expect booster shots to be authorized by the end of this month, and so those will be available at our local pharmacies, and we expect that we’ll at least stand up a few clinics in the region to help people get that done.”

Greg Vine can be reached at

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