Coronavirus cases hold steady at Tobey Hospital

May 13, 2020

Note: This story has been updated to include additional information about All American Assisted Living, which has no current coronavirus cases.

Weeks into the coronavirus pandemic, cases are holding steady at Tobey Hospital and across the Southcoast Health System. 

On May 12, there were 24 coronavirus patients at Tobey Hospital, three of whom were in the intensive care unit. 

In Wareham, cases have continued to increase, with the state reporting 171 cases in town on May 13. 

As of Monday, May 11, The Tremont Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center had 32 positive coronavirus cases, according to Tim Brown, the Director of Marketing and Communications for Athena Health Care Systems. 

Brown said that all of the residents at Tremont had already been tested, and the facility is working to test all of its staff by next week. 

According to Brown, 30 residents had recovered from the coronavirus as of Tuesday, May 12.

Wareham Healthcare was not listed by the state as having any cases as of May 12. 

On May 14, Michael Allen, the vice president of operations for All American Assisted Living, reported that there are no current coronavirus cases at the facility. There were two patients with coronavirus in the past who no longer live there. Every resident and staff member has been tested for coronavirus by the National Guard.

Testing at Tobey Hospital and across the Southcoast system continues to increase, and about 10,000 tests have been administered so far across the system. Southcoast recently received testing analyzers that allow tests to be processed quickly on-site.

“We are encouraged by some of the numbers that we’re seeing as it relates to testing and hospitalization, but we are not at a point at which these numbers would dictate any kind of decision making,” said Shawn Badgley, the public information officer for Southcoast. “We feel like we're on the right path, we feel like the region is going in the right direction, but we are still diligently determining what these numbers mean for our patients and the communities that we serve.”

Tests are appointment-only. Southcoast physicians can order tests, as can the nurses staffing the hospital’s coronavirus hotline, 508-973-1919, which is available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Badgley emphasized that it is important for people to continue to follow the guidelines issued by the state, including mandatory masks in situations were one cannot maintain six feet of distance between oneself and others. 

“We should still consider very carefully where we go, what we need, and who we interact with,” Badgley said. “There's no indication that we are in the clear, not only as a community but as a country. We're still learning a lot about the virus day in and day out.”

Southcoast Health is working with two new treatments for the virus. 

In partnership with the Mayo Clinic and the American Red Cross, the hospital is accepting donations of plasma from those who have fully recovered from coronavirus. The plasma is then administered to patients currently battling the disease, who are closely monitored to see if their symptoms improve. 

Southcoast also recently received a shipment of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug that may help patients with the virus. Southcoast officials are working to evaluate how to best use it to treat patients while following federal guidelines. 

Additionally, Southcoast Health’s Chief Clinical Officer Dani Hackner is serving on a state committee working to ensure that Remdesivir is equitably distributed across the state.

“Southcoast is not letting our guard down. We are exploring any and all opportunities to prevent spread in the community and to treat patients who have contracted the virus,” Badgley said.

Meanwhile, the hospital group is working to treat those with other concerns via telehealth or in person when necessary. Over the past two months, Southcoast providers have had more than 40,000 telehealth visits with patients. 

Southcoast is also working to ensure that when the hospital is able to resume regular in-person visits and non-emergency surgeries, it will be able to do so with the “highest standards of cleanliness and sanitization,” Badgley said. All Southcoast’s hospitals have been careful to treat coronavirus patients in designated areas, and will continue to keep coronavirus patients separate from others when procedures like heart surgeries, bariatric procedures, and orthopedic surgeries are allowed to resume. 

In the meantime, Badgley urges patients to seek the care they need through telehealth, urgent care facilities, and emergency rooms.