Confirmed cases grow statewide

Hospital has its first hospitalization for COVID-19.

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The Martha's Vineyard Hospital has tested 46 people with zero hospitalizations. — Lexi Pline

Updated 7:20 pm

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has confirmed its first hospitalization for a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release.

The hospital announced it had tested 51 patients in total.

The announcement comes after cases were confirmed in both West Tisbury and Tisbury, and as cases continue to rise rapidly across the state. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts reached 1,159 as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Department of Public Health.

Katrina Delgadillo, communications director for the hospital, said the hospital could not confirm the town in which a patient resides.

The West Tisbury board of health confirmed the second positive case of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

“The patient is under quarantine at their West Tisbury home and appears to be recovering,” a statement from the West Tisbury board of health reads. “The patient’s family and close contacts have been identified, and are in self-quarantine and taking all recommended precautions.”

No other identifying information is being released, to protect the patient’s privacy. The statement says the West Tisbury board of health is following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) guidelines for tracing and isolating close contacts to prevent further spread of the illness.

The second confirmed case came four days after a 50-year-old Tisbury man was confirmed to be the first case of COVID-19 on the Island. 

A press release from the Tisbury board of health stated the man was in his home and “appears to be recovering.” 

Tisbury health agent Maura Valley said the Tisbury man arrived on the Island via the Steamship Authority. “They took a freight boat and remained in their vehicle the entire trip,” Valley wrote in an email to The Times.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO Denise Schepici — along with Delgadillo and chief clinical and quality officer Claire Seguin — reiterated the message from the hospital’s parent company, Partners Healthcare, that because the Island has a lack of resources, people who are coming from off-Island to “ride out the virus” should stay away.

“We have limited bed capacity; we are not a hospital that can handle a surge,” Schepici said. “We have limited medical resources. We are OK right now, but they are dwindling daily. We don’t have enough staff.”

A surge would happen if the number of patients ill or coming to the hospital exceeds the hospital’s capacity to treat those patients.

“We are preparing for an influx of positives,” Schepici said in part. “We know that we’ve had people traveling, we know that we’ve had people not self-quarantining, we know that before we really got the word out, people were not taking us seriously. And we’ve had a positive patient who had a lot of community contact so, yes, we expect this to get worse. So does the whole state.”

 

Updated to change headline. — Ed.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Either the title of the article is misleading or the numbers published by the MA Dept. of Public Health are. Simply posting that 51 tests have been conducted without confirming test results as positive or negative is not helpful information. According to the MA DPH site, Dukes/Nantucket counties have 4 reported cases. Nantucket has confirmed 2, as has Dukes County. Are there more than 2 cases here or not? Why inflame an already tense situation without the actual data to back up the story?

      • This seems so odd to me – the hospital obviously knows whether this is a third positive case or one of the two already confirmed, but even though people are (justifiably) freaking out, they refuse to provide this one simple piece of information? For what possible reason would they withhold/delay this?

        • I’m sure it has to do with how HIPPA laws govern them. The other confirmations have come from local health departments. As medical experts have said, there are likely other cases and we’ve reported on at least one who suspects he has it, so that’s why the precautions are to be taken seriously.

        • Chloe, concerning the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), “The Rule requires appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information, and sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization. The Rule also gives patients rights over their health information, including rights to examine and obtain a copy of their health records, and to request corrections.” (https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/index.html)

          • Thanks — I am fairly familiar with HIPAA requirements, although I am not a medical provider, but simply notifying the public whether or not this is a third positive case would not, I wouldn’t think, be disclosure of individually identifiable information in violation of HIPAA. Of course there are people who have some amount of other information that *might* allow them to maybe figure out who the individual could be, but I still wouldn’t think that would be a violation (but again, I don’t work directly in a healthcare setting, so I do appreciate that I could be wrong).

  2. I would be helpful if the hospital could simply put out information like this: As of today, we have tested (fill in the number) individuals for COVID-19. (Fill in the number) of tests have been proven positive; (Fill in the number) of tests have come back negative; we are still awaiting results on (fill in the number) of tests. No HIPAA issues involved.

      • What’s more critical is staying home. We should all be as informed as we can, but stay home, stay home, stay home. Knowing how many confirmed cases, 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or more, does not change the fact that we all have to do what we can to slow down and stop more cases– by staying home. If there are 3 confirmed cases, there are a lot more people walking around with it asymptomatic, mildly sick, or just told to stay home by their doctor (without a test) until their symptoms have been gone for 2 weeks.

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