CEO: Nine serious cases will overwhelm hospital

Schepici tells builders association that hospital is planning for potential surge.

Hopsital CEO Denise Schepici, left and third from the top, participates in a town hall meeting with builders and Island officials Monday.

Nine cases of COVID-19 requiring serious medical attention could overwhelm the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, according to hospital CEO Denise Schepici.

Speaking to more than 130 builders, public officials, and others during a teleconference call with the Martha’s Vineyard Builders Association Monday evening, Schepici said the hospital is actively planning for an increase in coronavirus cases on the Island.

“We’re preparing for a surge and that will all depend on how sick people are,” Schepici said. “There are cases where people get very sick and we can probably take about nine of those, but we’re making some surge plans right now to take more and also to get preferential transfer off-Island to [Massachusetts General Hospital].”

The hospital has 25 beds and six ventilators, along with two respiratory therapists. Four of the beds are maternity, three are ICU, and the rest are acute beds that recline and sit upright.

On Monday, the hospital announced that there were eight confirmed cases on the Island, but each patient was at home self-quarantining. The hospital has tested 91 people with 73 of those tests coming back negative for the virus. There are 10 tests pending and zero hospitalizations. No healthcare workers have tested positive for coronavirus, Schepici said.

Speaking on the MVBA teleconference call, Schepici said a surge was likely to happen.

“I wish it weren’t likely. I think it is highly likely. We have to be prepared for that,” Schepici said. “There’s still community spread out there that is incubating that we haven’t seen so we are preparing for the worst, hoping for the best.”

Schepici said the next two weeks would be critical, and that Boston will most likely experience a surge in confirmed cases.

After Schepici left the call, Newell Isbell Shinn, director of production at South Mountain Company, facilitated questions from people on the call.

Shinn asked call participants to complete a poll asking how the local construction moratorium affected them.

Of the 130 people on the call, 68 percent said they would resume jobsite construction only when local public health officials allowed it and in another question, 67 percent said the federal CARES act would benefit them and their employees.

When asked if the construction ban was extended to April 21, 54 percent said their company would be “bruised, but able to keep going as much as before,” 29 percent said they would be okay, 15 percent said they would have to make permanent cuts to staffing, and 1 percent said they would be forced to close.

Speaking on enforcement, Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty said the town was not looking to write tickets.

“At the end of the day, no one wants to write a $1,000 ticket, no one wants to send the police down,” Hagerty said. “No one ever wants it to get to that point.”

Tisbury building commissioner Ross Seavey stressed that emergency construction is allowed and that people should contact the building or health officials in their town before going to a job site.

“We are issuing those authorizations, you just have to get in touch with us to do so,” Seavey said.