By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – For a moment on April 24, the doctors in blue hazmat suits testing patients for COVID-19 at the UMass Memorial – Marlborough Hospital took a breath and smiled.
That’s because, shortly after 3p.m., as dozens of cars snaked down Union Street. somberly awaiting tests, 50 emergency vehicles arrived as part of an appreciation parade to inject a moment of joy into the grim atmosphere the coronavirus has created.
“It was amazing,” said Ellen Carlucci, the Vice President of Marketing and Communication for the hospital.
The event came together quickly after Marlborough Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Gogan reached out to Carlucci. Having seen other parades for medical professionals in other communities, Gogan, Carlucci said, wanted to show Marlborough’s love for its doctors.
Gogan and other departments in Marlborough had, themselves, already been participating in a string of drive-by parades for local kids celebrating birthdays in the isolation of COVID-19.
With that base, he initially told Carlucci to expect a convoy of 25 emergency vehicles. Come April 24, though, he over delivered.
First responders from Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough and Sudbury joined the group, which massed first at the sprawling Navin Hockey Rink parking lot before then rolling towards the hospital.
“They wanted to pay tribute,” Carlucci said of first responders. “But it also gave us the chance to thank them for the great work they’re doing to keep us all safe during these very challenging times.”
Always trying to work synergistically, first responders and medical staff at Marlborough Hospital have had to work increasingly closely during this COVID-19 crisis.
Three hundred and thirty city residents have tested positive for the coronavirus with eight dying according to the city.
As some of those residents have needed medical treatment, at least eight had arrived at Marlborough Hospital as of April 12, when the state Health and Hospital Association released individual data for each of its affiliated facilities.
“We’re able to care for people at a high level,” Carlucci said, noting her hospital’s addition of new ICU beds and general expanded capacity during this crisis.
Now, even as experts predict overall infection and hospitalization rates could slowly start tapering down in the coming months, drive through testing, inpatient treatment, and other outreach measures continue at Marlborough Hospital.
The fight isn’t over.
That’s why, for Carlucci and the staff massing behind her, the honks and sirens of local police, firefighters and EMTs April 24 represented a welcome boost.
“It was a great tribute to the work that they’re doing,” she said. “And it really shows what a great community we work in.”
photos/video Dakota Antelman