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Cooley Dickinson requires masks for all patients, visitors

  • Cooley Dickinson Hospital at 30 Locust Street in Northampton. FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 4/6/2020 1:48:04 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital and its affiliated locations are now requiring all patients and visitors to wear a mask that will be provided upon entrance to any building.

The decision, effective Monday, comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended that people wear cloth face coverings in public. The idea behind the guidance is to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19, particularly by keeping those who may not know they have the virus from transmitting it to others.

“The mask must be worn as part of Cooley Dickinson’s continued efforts to protect our health care workers, our patients, and to combat any additional community spread,” the hospital said in a statement.

The mask requirement is one of several steps Cooley Dickinson is taking amid the COVID-19 outbreak. In a statement Saturday, President and CEO Joanne Marqusee said the hospital is working to create capacity for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 patients, particularly in its intensive care unit and emergency department.

Marqusee said the hopsital will be able to at least double its inpatient capacity and triple the number of patients who can be treated in the ICU.

“It is difficult to know if that will be enough, and we will continue to work to maximize our capacity,” Marqusee said.

In addition to the work of local health care facilities, Marqusee noted that the state is setting up “field hospitals” in several locations as well as nursing homes that can be dedicated to coronavirus-positive patients — a step she said Cooley Dickinson supports

The hospital also has set up a COVID-19 call center, which will field questions like how to donate medical-grade supplies, where someone without a primary care provider can find one and where to seek treatment for something other than a respiratory illness.

The phone number is 1-888-554-4234 and will be staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Marqusee also thanked the hospital’s employees for their continued work and said it is of “paramount importance” that community members do what they can to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Whatever you were doing yesterday, double your efforts today,” Marqusee said. “Social distancing, hand hygiene, surface cleaning — we all must do all of these. Our community will be better off, and Cooley Dickinson will be better able to meet the needs of our community.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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