Human resources

Athol Daily News – Local cases reach milestone, increase continues to strain resources

ATHOL – For several months, Heywood Healthcare President and CEO Win Brown has provided a weekly update regarding COVID-19 cases in the region and Heywood’s response to it. Due to the unprecedented outbreak of the virus in recent weeks, he has found it desirable to now provide briefings twice a week.

In his briefing on Wednesday, Jan.5, Brown said Heywood had taken a big step forward.

“Today we have 35 COVID positive patients in our system,” he said. “Our lab director recently told us that we have distributed the 10,000th positive COVID test that we have only seen in our lab and, as you know, our lab is doing an incredible amount of volume. We operate our COVID testing equipment there 22 hours a day. We peaked at around 250 positives in one day. ”

Brown said the increase continues to strain hospital resources,

“Clearly,” he continued, “our emergency rooms are overcrowded. We have patients waiting for beds. We’re just doing our best to handle incredible volume through the system.

“The management team of the two hospitals and the medical group meet three times a day via Zoom – morning, noon and afternoon – and now seven days a week to try to manage the flow of patients.

“So please,” he said, “if you know someone who works for Heywood or who works in the healthcare field, please thank them for the job. of Yeoman that we do. ”

Brown added that there is currently a high level of positivity among the staff at Heywood, despite the fact that they are all vaccinated. Not all of them, he said, have received their booster shots yet. Brown said most of those infected have mild or manageable symptoms.

“Obviously, with staff and over 200 vacancies in our system, we’re working 24/7 just to make sure we can hold everything together – and we’re doing it really well. I am very proud that everyone is doing the job they are doing, ”he said.

“If you come to us for care, be patient as we do a lot with the limited resources we have – not to mention the supply chain crises we have, like every other hospital in the Commonwealth and New Brunswick. England and across the country. ”

Brown then gave some advice on when area residents should – or shouldn’t – use the emergency rooms at Heywood Hospital in Gardner and Athol Hospital. He said people need to know when to access emergency room, emergency care or their primary care doctor.

“You have to come to the ER, not for COVID testing – please don’t come to the ER for a COVID test because it’s just an inappropriate place to get it. Go to your emergency department for this, or call and make an appointment for our test, which is available seven days a week on our campus.

“But if you don’t have any symptoms, please don’t come for a COVID test. It just wastes resources, number one and number two, increasing the amount of work we have to do. If you’re asymptomatic or have no symptoms, see if you can get a quick test. Just make sure you’re getting the right care in the right place.

Brown then reiterated a point he made in the past regarding the availability of intensive care beds.

“We just want to make sure everyone understands the pressure we’re under,” he said, “and we want to do our best to take care of our community. We have to make sure that we use our resources as best we can in our small community hospitals, in our semi-rural part of the state.

“There are no intensive care beds, or almost no intensive care beds, in the Commonwealth or New England. So we’re working very hard to make sure we have the bed capacity. We’re still waiting to put patients in beds as we speak, ”Brown said as he finished his briefing.

As of Monday, January 10, COVID testing will only be performed at Main Street Urgent Care in Gardner and Tully Walk In Care in Athol for patients needing to see a provider.

Patients who do not need to see a provider should make an appointment at the Damon test site in Gardner by calling 978-630-6186. Same day appointments will be available.

Locally, Athol’s deputy health worker Jane O’Brien told the Athol Daily News that as of Thursday, January 6, there were 325 active cases of COVID in town – by far the highest number nowadays.

Vaccination clinic

An Athol vaccination clinic is scheduled for Tuesday, January 18 at the Athol Senior Center in Lord Pond Plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The clinic will provide first-time boosters and injections to residents 12 years of age and older. It is sponsored by the Community Health Center, the Athol Council on Aging, and the Athol Board of Health.

Greg Vine can be contacted at