COVID-19 patient admitted to hospital

Patient is in ‘fair condition’; flu shots in high demand.

Martha's Vineyard Hospital says a hospitalized patient has been released. — Kyra Steck

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital admitted its first COVID-19-positive patient, hospital officials confirmed Wednesday.

In a conference call with reporters, chief nurse and operating officer Claire Seguin confirmed the hospitalization, and said the patient was a new confirmed-positive case.

“The patient’s in fair condition,” Seguin said.

According to Seguin, this was the first patient who tested positive for COVID-19 to be admitted to the hospital. In April, the hospital transferred three COVID-19-positive patients off-Island. One of those patients died in Boston, “due to medical complications not proven to be related to COVID-19,” according to a hospital spokesperson at the time.

While those three patients were hospitalized, they were not admitted. Hospital CEO Denise Schepici, who was also on the call, said the hospital can hold patients at the hospital before they are transferred, meaning they are hospitalized, but not admitted.

The hospitalized patient marks a new case for the hospital. The hospital has reported it has tested a total of 5,329 patients since March. Of those, 48 have tested positive, 5,202 tested negative, and 79 are pending results.

As confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state and the country, demand for annual flu vaccines is up. The hospital announced a planned public flu clinic in conjunction with the Island boards of health.

Schepici said the hospital and boards of health are planning for the clinic to be open to the public at the end of the month, depending on vaccine supply. No location has been set for the clinic.

Currently the hospital is only offering flu shots to hospital patients with primary care physicians, due to limits on vaccines available.

Schepici said it is not unusual for demand to be high for flu vaccines. She added that the scare from the coronavirus pandemic is also driving up demand.

“The demand is being driven up a little bit, which is not a bad thing. Supply and demand don’t always meet,” she said. “We’re just trying to be careful and make sure we have enough for everybody.”

The hospital has also expanded its drive-through hours for flu vaccines if they are a patient of a doctor on staff at the hospital. Patients can call 508-684-4500 for primary care or 508-693-3732 for pediatrics. Patients with an upcoming appointment will be able to receive a flu shot at that time.

Patients can also schedule a drive-through flu shot. Drive-through hours are Monday, 4 pm to 7 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday, 2:30 pm to 7 pm, and Thursday, 12:30 pm to 7 pm. 

Schepici also called on the community to help find a place for those without a permanent home.

Last week, the hospital approved a $150,000 grant to provide support for Island families and individuals who do not have a permanent home through a night shelter and warming center, but Schepici said this is only a temporary fix.

“We really need a sustainable plan. I know our community, as it always does in a time of need, will step forward and help,” Schepici said. 

Currently there are a group of people without access to permanent housing that the hospital is seeking space for.

“We’re still having a difficult time to house five individuals that could overnight sleep,” Schepici said.

October is also breast cancer awareness month, and Schepici said it was an important reminder for women to consult their doctor about a mammogram. According to the American Cancer Society, women ages 40-44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening, women 45-55 years old should have mammograms every year, and women older than 55 should have mammograms once every two years. Schepici also suggested women consult with their primary care physician.

On Friday, two males under the age of 20 tested positive for COVID-19. A band consisting of recent Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduates, Era of Good Feelings, was scheduled to play at the Martha’s Vineyard Drive-In near the Ice Arena Friday. The performance was canceled because one or more band members were suspected to have been exposed to COVID-19. It’s not clear if the potential exposure has anything to do with the two cases reported Friday.

TestMV, the asymptomatic testing site at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, also reported a new case this week, bringing its total number of confirmed cases to 30.

The asymptomatic testing site has tested 15,786 individuals with 15,352 negatives, and 404 pending results.

The town of Aquinnah has tested 293 individuals. Of those 283 have come back negative and 10 are pending results.

The Martha’s Vineyard boards of health have confirmed another case, bringing the Island’s total number of confirmed cases since March to 79.

Of the Island’s 79 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 74 are no longer symptomatic and have been released from isolation. One case was lost to a follow-up check-in, and two are being monitored.

Through contact tracing, the cases of 27 individuals, or 35 percent of the Vineyard’s cases, have been linked to another individual.

Due to the hospital, boards of health, and the town of Aquinnah all reporting their own data at different times of day, and due to some people being tested at multiple sites, exact numbers can be difficult to calculate.

Of 79 confirmed cases, 47 are female and 32 are male. Of those, 17 of the cases are 50-59 years old, 16 are 20-29 years old, 11 cases are 60-69 years old, 14 are 30-39 years old, 11 are 20 years old or younger, five are 40-49, and five are 70 years or older.

The boards of health are also reporting on probable cases. The Island’s total number of presumed positives is 24. Of those, 21 were positive antibody tests, and three were symptomatically positive.

Of the probable cases, 14 are female and 10 are male. Of the 24 presumed positive cases, seven are aged 60-69, five are aged 50-59, three are aged 40-49, five are aged 20-29, two are under 20 years old, and two are over the age of 70.

Massachusetts continues to see positive cases of COVID-19 across the state. On Tuesday, there were 465 new cases and 20 new deaths. The state now has 132,905 confirmed cases and a total of 9,315 deaths from COVID-19.