Athol Daily News – Heywood Hospital uses ‘code helper’ as Covid positivity rates rise

GARDNER – In his briefing on Wednesday, December 8, Heywood Healthcare President and CEO Win Brown reported that Gardner’s Heywood Hospital and Athol Hospital have been inundated with concerned residents of the service area of ​​the health care provider.

“First, when testing, our prevalence is extremely high,” he said. “We are in double digits. We have been operating under “Help Code” for several days due to our emergency volume and our inpatient volume on both campuses. So, well done to our staff, who have done an incredible job in making sure that we can take care of our communities. I know we had a few delays in our ERs – you’re used to getting in and out of our ERs – and obviously with the peak volume it made things difficult.

Brown also praised the staff at Heywood, “who jumped into different roles to make sure we could take care of everyone.” This flexibility, he said, “is incredible.”

According to the state’s website,, “Code assistance plans are being put in place by hospitals to eliminate overcrowding in emergency departments (ED) and ensure they can maintain their ability to operate. accept and manage new patients for emergency care. All acute care hospitals approved by the Department of Public Health (DPH) must have a code support policy in place.

On Friday, December 10, Brown issued a briefing alongside Gardner Mayor Mike Nicholson. Gardner had recorded 65 deaths from COVID as of Friday and nearly 3,500 total cases since the start of the pandemic.

“If you’ve watched the news and read the local papers,” Brown began, “you can see that we have a big increase in COVID positivity across the Commonwealth, and particularly here in the greater Gardner and North area. Quabbin, north-central Massachusetts.

“Even in Gardner alone,” Nicholson interjected, “we have over 130 cases right here in Gardner town, which we haven’t seen in months. And it’s still going up and up.

“Like we said from the start, don’t forget all the things we’ve learned over the last year about wearing a mask, social distancing. Get vaccinated and if you are vaccinated, remind yourself. Don’t be the reason someone else gets sick. It is not just a question of personal responsibility; there is a community responsibility with that. Don’t be the reason someone misses the holidays because they got sick.

Brown then noted that the 16 and 17 year olds had recently been approved to receive the booster.

“If you look at the positivity rate in our community by age group,” he continued, “we have a lot of what we would call ‘minors’ that are part of that positivity rate, of our 75 (74.5) out of 100,000 (residents), among the highest in the state.

The positivity rate per 100,000 population in communities in the Heywood service area included: Athol (84.1), Orange (96.7), Phillipston (54.2), Royalston (56.1), Templeton ( 50.7) and Winchendon (65.7).

Brown added that the COVID outbreak is also creating an issue that hasn’t received much attention.

Blood shortage

“The other thing that is happening that is affecting hospitals because of the pandemic,” he explained, “is that the blood supply is in huge, huge shortage. They are spread out with the Cross. -Red based on your average usage, which means Athol Hospital will not currently receive any blood distributions beyond what it currently has in stock, Heywood will get its average.

Brown and Nicholson both urged anyone who can to travel to Worcester to donate blood. Local blood donation clinics, they said, are scarce due to a shortage of staff at the Red Cross.

“So get yourself vaccinated, boost yourself – do whatever you need to do to be a part of the community and support the community so that we can fight this,” Brown urged. “We have 14 hospital patients in Heywood today, our ER is full at both hospitals – so you don’t have to wait any longer to get into the ER. All of these things really add to the strain on your healthcare system. So please do your part.

Greg Vine can be contacted at

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