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Social distancing is working to “flatten the curve” in western Mass

April 17, 2020

The Baker Administration now estimates Massachusetts COVID-19 cases will peak sometime between this week and April 20th.

Dr. Andrew Artenstein, Chief Physician Executive for Baystate Health, says the strict social distancing measures are helping to flatten the curve in western Massachusetts.

He spoke with Carolee McGrath of WGBY’s Connecting Points about the volume of cases he’s seen, the personal protective equipment shortage, and more.

Positive Numbers

About 85% of the COVID-19 patients within the Baystate Health system are being treated at Baystate Medical Center. Those numbers have been pretty consistent for the last week.

“We were and remain one of the busiest COVID hospitals in the state of Massachusetts, but we have managed well to keep patients being discharged and going home, which is a wonderful thing,” Dr. Artenstein says.

He says 2/3 of the people who ended up at the hospital with COVID-19 either did not need hospital-level care or have been discharged.

Admittance Process

If someone is hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms, the process to get them treated starts in the Emergency Department.

In the ED, they would be appropriately isolated, as medical staff in personal protective equipment evaluated them for a wide range of symptoms.

“Testing has expanded,” Dr. Artenstein says. “We have in-house testing with a turnaround time of hours instead of days.”

If they test positive, the patient would be brought to one of the isolated areas – away from un-infected patients – to be treated.

Equipment Shortages

Baystate Health is working hard to protect its more than 12,000 caregivers. There is enough personal protective equipment to go around for the time being.

But while the rest of the country talks of mask shortages, Dr. Artenstein says there’s one PPE Baystate Health is uncovering every rock to find.

“We’re working heavily right now on gowns. Believe it or not, those disposable or launderable gowns are very, very scarce these days,” Dr. Artenstein says.

Learn more about how you can help Baystate Health as its healthcare workers treat COVID-19 patients.

Watch

Check out the full Connecting Points interview with Dr. Artenstein: