UMass Memorial – Marlborough Hospital on the frontline of pandemic

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Roach stresses that hospital is well-equipped to treat non-COVID-19 patients as well

By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor 

Healthcare professionals wave to supporters who drove by the hospital in a parade April 24.
Photo/Dakota Antelman

Marlborough – As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, UMass Memorial Health Care, as the region’s largest healthcare provider, has been on the frontline, both as a testing site and for the treatment of patients who have contracted the virus.

Steven Roach, the UMass Memorial – Marlborough Hospital’s president and CEO, recently took some time to reflect on what has been a hectic and often stressful 10 weeks. He has been humbled by the commitment of his staff, the outpouring of support from the community and the way the hospital has responded, not just to victims of COVID-19 but to those requiring services for other health issues.

As the situation escalated over the past two months, so did “the influx of new information, new processes and new ways to deliver care,” Roach said.

“Our caregivers, our colleagues at UMass Memorial Health Care, our medical staff, trustees and hospital leadership have joined together to implement new policies, treatment plans, protocols, etc. as quickly as new information was being disseminated,” he said.

“The front line caregivers have handled this pandemic wonderfully,” he added. “Caregivers are all concerned and some are scared of COVID-19, but they continue to provide excellent and safe care to all patients. They remain vigilant about keeping themselves, their co-workers and their patients safe.”

Due to the cancellation of elective procedures, several staff members were re-deployed, he noted, to work in the testing tents, screening staff and supplementing care provision in the Emergency Department and inpatient units.

Working under such stressful situations can definitely take a toll on the caregivers. But these conditions also bring moments of great unity and reflection. One such moment happened as when the first recovered COVID-19 patient was discharged after “many, many days in the ICU unit on a ventilator was a proud moment,” Roach said.

“The outpouring of support and pride that was shown as the patient was wheeled on a stretcher from the med/surg unit to the ambulance to take him home was a heartwarming sight to see,” he said.  “Caregivers from every department stood in line, clapping hands, cheering on the patient and elbow bumping him as he made his way to the door.”

“Caregivers who were not involved in his care and caregivers who were, stood side by side to bid the patient farewell,” he added. “It was a great day for all.”

Support from the community has helped to bolster the staff’s spirits, he said, during the crisis.

“The staff at Marlborough Hospital would like to thank our community for the gracious donations of PPE, monetary donations and food,” he said.

And when meals and goods were purchased from local businesses, that also benefited those businesses, many of which have also been adversely affected by the crisis.

As grateful as the staff is for food donations, Roach requested that future donations be “individually packaged or wrapped – as we cannot share food due to the increased risk of exposure.”

During a pandemic such as this, other conditions or illnesses, of course, do not stop. Roach stressed that the hospital was still open and ready to provide care for all patients, not just those diagnosed with COVID-19. It was imperative, he said, that if you are in pain or not feeling well, that you seek help.

“Delaying care for certain types of issues could compound the issue and increase the risk to the patient,” he said. “While we have adjusted our hospitals to care for COVID-19 patients, we want to stress to our community that we do not want people to avoid medical care because of fear of contracting COVID-19.

“We have the ability to safely care for your medical needs.”