Five suspected COVID-19 cases reported at Baystate Franklin

  • Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield. STAFF File PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 3/17/2020 4:26:02 PM

GREENFIELD — There are five suspected cases of COVID-19 at Baystate Franklin Medical Center at this point, the hospital’s chief nursing and administrative officer reported Tuesday.

“We have five people who presented with symptoms that were bad enough to test,” said Deb Provost. “We’re waiting for those test results. It takes three to five days to get the results.”

Provost said Baystate Franklin first tests for the flu and other viruses and when those come back negative, which all five did, they are tested for COVID-19.

“Today we have five who are hospitalized in a special wing,” she said. “If any of the tests come back positive, that person or those people will be transferred to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, which has set up a triage unit outside the emergency room, and is also isolating people in a special wing.”

Provost said there are suspected cases at both the Springfield hospital and at Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield. She said there has been one confirmed case of COVID-19 at Baystate Medical Center and that person is recovering at home.

“Depending on how sick people are, they either stay in the hospital or go home to recover,” Provost said. “If their symptoms are subsiding, they are sent home to self-quarantine and receive symptomatic care. If they are having difficulty breathing, are worsening or are at risk, they will go to Springfield.”

Provost said once a specimen has been sent for testing of COVID-19, it currently takes three to four days to get the results.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that there will be more suspected cases in Massachusetts because more tests are being done. When people present with symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, they will be tested, which means the number of suspected cases will rise, but that doesn’t mean any of them will come back positive.

Provost said the hospital’s three administrators and others speak on a conference call every day at 10 a.m. to discuss what’s happening throughout the state and country, and to talk about whether there are any changes in requests from the governor or health organizations. Then, at 10:30, an operations meeting is held at all hospitals to share the information with everyone who needs to have it.

Baystate Franklin has canceled all elective surgeries and procedures and will continue to determine best practices, Provost said.

“We’re looking at everything at this point,” she said. “Whether it be whether we have enough protective gear, how many patients are awaiting test results and any other issues.”

She said as time goes on, Baystate Franklin will have to determine if it has enough space if many more people present with symptoms.

Baystate Health has a website, baystatehealth.org, where people can receive the most up-to-date information. Provost said it not only provides local information, but offers links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state Department of Public Health websites, which also provide up-to-date information each day.

“Things are changing very quickly, sometimes by the minute,” Provost said. “We will continue looking at what we need to do to keep everyone safe. We hope everyone will look at these websites and what they need to do to keep themselves safe, and follow all of the guidelines.”

Provost said people need to be patient, because it is a virus that has never been treated before, so everyone is still learning. She said Baystate Health treats the coronavirus every day, just not this strain.

“It’s just something we’ll all have to be patient about,” she said.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.




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