It takes only one

3
Martha's Vineyard Hospital. — Stacey Rupolo

It takes only one. One person who is COVID-19 positive. One person, in our community who shows no symptoms and innocently is unaware he or she is carrying the novel coronavirus. It takes only one to assist the spread and infect scores of others – without knowing. 

We know this virus exists in our community and will spread further when more of our residents travel here. I am not writing these words to create panic; I am writing these words to share the reality of where we are today. 

You have heard the plea from leaders on both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, if you have a permanent residence off Island, please stay home. You will help save lives. 

This virus is everything we as Islanders are not. It promotes isolation and protection from each other. Whereas we are a diverse community, bonded in our love for an Island and its treasures that we all cherish. 

However, in order to fight back against COVID-19, we will need to make sacrifices and we will need to make those decisions together. 

No one likes to say, please stay home. But we do so as a request to support our entire community. We greatly appreciate all those who have heeded our call and thank everyone for embracing a spirit of unity with a singular focus of taking care of one another for the safety of one another. 

Our community hospital, which so many of you support and we cannot thank you enough, was simply not built to simultaneously handle an increasing population and a worsening pandemic. That is an alarming mixture in this healthcare crisis and there is no other way to soften that statement. 

We have all seen the mounting numbers of COVID-19 positive patients across the nation, more than 500,000 and in our state close to 20,000. Although our data on the Island may seem low, this is not the time to be complacent. Now is time to double-down on our efforts to stay at home and only travel when it is absolutely necessary. Just as important is the practice of social distancing and if you do go outside, you’re encouraged to wear a mask for your safety and to protect others. 

At the hospital, our plans are in place. Our singular focus is the safety of our patients and our healthcare heroes who are serving our Island 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

We expect our surge to take place soon, so we must be ready now and not take our foot off the gas. What does that mean for our patients? We will not be in a position to transfer and deliver most of our specialty services, including dialysis, chemotherapy and other infusion services for example, as we have in previous summers. 

We are asking people to maintain their care programs at their primary residences, because we have rearranged our hospital so we can safely separate and treat any patient whether their care is COVID-19 related or not. And just as important is providing a secure environment for our exceptional and dedicated staff of doctors, nurses, every member of our team who is supporting all aspects of our clinical care. 

The latest information from The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation about our state is staggering, with the death toll each day projected by the end of this month to be 201 lives —  men and women of all ages, genders and medical conditions. 

From our partners at Massachusetts General Hospital, the guidance we are receiving is that “we are still one to two weeks away from the peak of hospitalizations.” Expect it to take weeks for the wave of patients who have been admitted to a hospital to transition to recovery. MGH joins our call that now is not the time to let up on social distancing, because these interventions have saved lives and kept ICU care available. 

Let us agree that this is a time to think of each other and our greater community. I urge everyone to continue to lay low, travel only if absolutely necessary, and let our government and health leaders re- examine our position in two weeks. If we all do our part, we can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Remember, it takes only one. 

Denise Schepici is the president & CEO of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Windemere.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Ms. Schepici. This was thoughtfully worded. The message is clear, practical, and based in compassion for all. The hard work going on at the hospital is very much appreciated, and I pray everyone will support your efforts to keep us safe.

  2. Thank you, Ms. Schepici, for this: “We expect our surge to take place soon, so we must be ready now and not take our foot off the gas.”
    Each day we go without a new case gives me hope, but we are not out of the woods yet.

  3. We have been homeowners and “residents” for over 20 years. We winter in FL. My wife is a nurse.
    With classes for college being remote my youngest daughter suggested we go up to the vineyard now. She could take her final classes and with graduation cancelled get a jump start on the summer with work.
    Yes we pay taxes and no one can tell us not to come up. It is our right as homeowners.
    I left it to her and she made the right call. Yes we can go up but coming from another area that epicenters like NY and Boston have come down to, and watching our cases spike the right thing to do is stay put til we get the all clear.
    I am dismayed at the arrogance of some folks who just went and could care less about taxing the supplies and health system on the islands. 100 bed hospital folks. That’s what the average floor of a hospital in NY orbBoston has.
    Do the right thing and stay put and maybe we can all then enjoy the summer. And that’s only a definite maybe at this stage.

Comments are closed.