Hospital reports new case

Hospital sees uptick in primary care requests.

606 booster appointments open Friday. — Kyra Steck

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital reported a new case Wednesday. This is the hospital’s seventh reported case this month, and 44th since it began testing in March.

In total, the hospital has tested 3,905 patients, with 3,790 negatives, and 71 pending results. There are currently no patients hospitalized with COVID-19. In April, the hospital transferred three patients off-Island who tested positive for COVID-19.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Hospital CEO Denise Schepici and chief nurse and operating officer Claire Seguin said the recent uptick in cases over the past two weeks was expected, but the hospital is monitoring the data closely. Schepici also reiterated the importance of wearing masks and socially distancing.

“We do remain vigilant here at the hospital,” Seguin said. “We all continue to be focused on patient and staff safety as our No. 1 priority.”

Since the pandemic began, the hospital has been adapting to the remote world. Across the hospital’s parent company, Mass General Brigham, formerly Partners Healthcare, more than 1 million patients have used telehealth services. Of those, 8,500 visits have been conducted at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. 

Some hospital employees are also working from home. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital had close to 100 of its 600 employees working from home. Now about 50 administrative and finance employees are working from home, and will continue to do so until June 2021. Schepici said this is to respect Gov. Charlie Baker’s request that all employees able to work from home do so, and to prepare for a potential surge during the fall and winter.

The hospital has also seen a significant increase in requests for a primary-care physician. Schepici said there have been 90 such requests. “That’s a lot more than we see at this time of year,” Schepici said. 

Schepici said she’s also looking to hire more primary-care physicians, something the hospital has been planning to do.

Hospital revenues are coming back slowly. In June, Schepici confirmed the hospital was losing about $750,000 a week, totaling almost $8 million, since it closed down its elective procedures in March, but was able to offset some of those losses with CARES Act funding. Fundraising for the hospital is also up this year.

At the beginning of the month, the hospital announced several cuts to administrative positions in a cost-saving measure. Schepici said while labor is the hospital’s biggest expense, it’s also its greatest asset. “I think we need more people in order to reorganize our work. That’s the lens I look at it through. How can we work better? Not how can we cut positions,” Schepici said. “We have a wonderfully flexible workforce here, who are so willing to step up in so many ways.”

Along with the hospital, TestMV has tested 10,960 patients with 10,379 negatives, and 561 pending results.The town of Aquinnah has tested 134 patients with zero positives, 109 negatives, and 25 pending results. The Martha’s Vineyard boards of health have confirmed one other case separately.

The Island has seen 12 new cases in August. Of the Island’s 64 confirmed positive cases, 59 are no longer symptomatic, and have been released from isolation. Three are still being monitored by public health officials, and one was lost to a follow up call. Health officials have linked 25 of the confirmed cases to several cases among nine different household groups, according to the boards of health.

Of 63 of the confirmed cases, 40 are female and 23 are male. Of those, 17 of the cases are 50-59 years old, 13 are 20-29 years old, nine cases are 60-69 years old, eight are 30-39 years old, nine are 20 years old or younger, four are 40-49, and three are 70 years or older.

The boards of health are also reporting on probable cases. The Island’s total number of presumed positives is 20. Of those, 17 were positive antibody tests, and three were symptomatically positive.

Of the probable cases, 12 are female and eight are male. Of the 20 presumed positive cases, seven are aged 60-69, four are aged 50-59, three are aged 40-49, three are aged 20-29, two are under 20 years old, and one is over the age of 70.