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Heywood president stresses vigilance to combat COVID-19

  • Heywood Hospital COURTESY PHOTO

For Athol Daily News
Published: 5/18/2020 3:46:26 PM
Modified: 5/18/2020 3:46:22 PM

GARDNER – “COVID-19 is here,” said Heywood Healthcare President Winfield Brown during a recent briefing. “It’s in our community. It’s all up to us to tamp it down and use good physical distancing from one another, and all the right hygiene moves. So, please remain vigilant. It is here – it is still here. So, we need everybody’s support.”

Brown cautioned that despite a trending decrease in the number of positive cases, the public needs to remain vigilant and employ preventative measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a separate briefing, Jean Sanborn of Infection Prevention offered some encouraging news.

“We have all the necessary PPE that we need at this particular time,” she said. “We have gowns, goggles, face shields. Part of our surveillance is to make sure that nursing, doctors, respiratory therapists, etcetera, all wear this personal protective equipment. We seem to be doing a very good job of that.”

Ann Nolan, also of Infection Prevention, added that testing continues at all Heywood Healthcare facilities, which include Gardner and Athol hospitals.

“It’s really important that we continue to screen at all the doors,” said Nolan, “to make sure that there’s no fever or other symptoms, and if those patients who have symptoms — or staff — we encourage them to call their health care provider and or go to walk-in at Tully (Walk-In Care) or (Heywood) Urgent Care.

“The state has been talking about antibody testing. There have been a lot of questions about that, and there are really no good answers right now. What we’re looking for a people who have symptoms of COVID or who have had direct contact with a positive patient, without PPE. Those are the people who should get tested for the viral infection. But as far as antibodies, we don’t know enough to give any sort of guidance.”

Sanborn stressed that, as the state prepares to open up, people should continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and wash their hands. Otherwise, she said, there is the risk of another surge.

Figures provided by Heywood Healthcare indicate that, as of Sunday, the health care system has conducted 3,894 tests for COVID-19. Of those, 3,353 have come back negative, 434 have tested positive, and 48 were indeterminate. That translates to a positive rate for our area of 11.3 percent; compared to the state average of around 19 percent.

At the time of the briefing, Heywood Hospital was treating six in-patients, one of whom was in intensive care. Six others remained under investigation.

In Worcester County, there have been 9,067 cases of the virus, resulting in 554 deaths.

As of Wednesday, the latest date for which figures were available, the town of Athol had seen 49 cases of the coronavirus, 39 of which have been cleared.


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