TestMV to make West Tisbury move

All appointments made through the month of June will be honored at West Tisbury. 

Island Health Care nurse Michael Savoy explains how to self-administer the coronavirus test to West Tisbury police officer Bradley Cortez. — Lexi Pline

TestMV is set to move from its longtime home at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School to the West Tisbury School on Monday, June 21.

The asymptomatic COVID testing site has been in operation at the high school since June 1, 2020. TestMV was made possible through a partnership with Island Health Care, Quest Diagnostics, and Martha’s Vineyard Bank.

In that time, the testing site has administered over 38,000 tests with the help of 118 volunteers, 12 staff, and each Island health agent. 

With the Performing Arts Center opening back up, the high school needed the parking lot that TestMV has been using. All appointments made through the month of June will be honored at West Tisbury. All appointments made through the month of June will be honored at West Tisbury. 

“We had to learn on the go,” IHC executive director Cynthia Mitchell said in a press release. “It was not without its hiccups and learning curve, but with over 38,000 tests taken, it has been both an incredible success and a key to keeping the pandemic in check on the Island.”

Through the month, the Monday through Friday hours will remain the same: 9 am to 12 noon and 1-3:30 pm. Beginning July 1, TestMV will be open 9 am to 1 pm, Monday through Friday.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, hospital officials are preparing for a return to a normal summer.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s state of emergency officially ended Tuesday, which for the hospital was a sign that life post-pandemic is here.“This signals that it’s time to shift back at the right pace to the way our lives used to be,” hospital president and CEO Denise Schepici said.

Even with businesses opening up and restrictions relaxed, the hospital has two pop up vaccine clinics on June 22. The clinics will be at the Chilmark Community Center from 9 am to 12:30 pm and the Chappaquiddick Community Center from 1:30 pm to 6 pm. Registration will be available through the community center websites. The clinics will also take walk-ins. 

Meanwhile, the hospital’s main vaccine clinic will be moving indoors ahead of the warmer and humid summer months. The clinic will be just beyond the hospital’s main lobby. Vaccine appointments are open to everyone 12 years of age and older. 

Once nearly impossible to book, appointments are widely available at the hospital, according to chief nurse and chief operating officer Claire Seguin. With an ample supply of each type of vaccine and a low number of appointments, the hospital is giving individuals the choice of a one shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the two shot Pfizer vaccine. The hospital is also able to give out second shots of Moderna for those who got their first dose elsewhere.

Schepici said the hospital will be adhering to COVID protocols such as wearing a mask and social distancing inside the hospital. Vaccinated individuals in the same office will be allowed to take off their masks and visitation for patients has opened up to one person at a time.

Additionally, nursing home visitation policies have relaxed across Massachusetts. At Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 100 percent of residents have received the vaccine. Some Windemere staff have not received the vaccine, but are required to be tested for COVID-19 each week.

Windermere is one of only nine nursing homes in the entire state that have stayed COVID-free throughout the pandemic.

The hospital is slowly closing the gap on those with one and both doses of the vaccine. In total, the hospital has administered over 26,000 vaccines — 13,471 first doses and 13,085 second doses.

According to the Department of Public Health, 89 percent of Dukes County residents 16 and older have received a single dose of the vaccine and 79 percent are fully vaccinated. 

Schepici also announced that the hospital was recognized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement as an age friendly health system with committed care for seniors.

“Our work focused on the four Ms—what matters, medication, mentation, and mobility,” Schepici said.

Seguin and Schepici said the hospital will always offer COVID vaccines in the same way other vaccines are offered. For now the hospital is looking to get back to a new normal. After the summer, the hospital will be looking at pediatric COVID vaccinations.

“It’s a relief in many ways to try and get back to our normal busy,” Schepici said. “We know COVID is still going to still be around and around the edges for a while. We’re going to normalize vaccines, wait to see about boosters. We’ll be prepared when that happens.”