Healthy appreciation


This week, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital began accepting patients for some elective procedures, a return to a bit of normalcy in a place that’s been thrust into the frontline of a worldwide pandemic.

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 decline across the state, and some businesses consider nonessential reopening, it’s a good time to stop and appreciate the leadership role the hospital and its CEO, Denise Schepici, have played over the past three-plus months. Even as other hospitals across the state and country have been forced to furlough or lay off staff healthcare workers in non-emergency roles, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital — remarkably — has suffered no job losses during the pandemic. Partners Healthcare, MVH’s parent company, is one of the few healthcare companies that’s been able to avoid such job cuts, which have affected the industry. Nearby, Cape Cod Healthcare furloughed 600 employees, even as some of their co-workers suddenly found themselves in the dangerous jobs of treating infected patients, putting their own health on the line.

We’ve been fortunate on the Island to date. The number of those infected with COVID-19 has remained relatively low. As of Tuesday, 26 out of 837 people have tested positive for coronavirus. Some of the early fears of the Island hospital becoming overwhelmed by cases have not come to pass. And for those who were seriously ill, the Partners network of hospitals was a helicopter ride away — or in one instance, a ferry and car ride away.

Meanwhile, through the generosity of an Edgartown couple and a donation from the Martha’s Vineyard Bank’s foundation, expanded testing begins later this week on the Island.

This is far from over, but nevertheless, this is a good time to stop and appreciate the hospital’s role in keeping the public informed and providing leadership.

We would be remiss if we didn’t recognize the hospital’s role in protecting patients at Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. Given the number of nursing home patients across the Bay State who have been infected by COVID-19, hospital officials have done an incredible job of insulating the 43 residents at Windemere thus far.

Last Saturday, the hospital released the results of testing of patients and staff, which showed no positive results for COVID-19.

This is remarkable, considering that statewide, 19,602 people in long-term care facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, and of those, 3,890 have died. One thing that COVID-19 data has shown from the beginning is that it is deadly for the most vulnerable among us. In Massachusetts, deaths at long-term-care facilities account for a staggering 61 percent of the COVID-19-related deaths.

The early protocols put into place, like limiting visits to the facility — a difficult but necessary step — have protected the most vulnerable population in our community.

We’re in this together, and we’re fortunate to have Martha’s Vineyard Hospital as an ally and leader in the effort to project the health of Vineyarders.