EASTON — Emergency Management Director Kevin Partridge, Director of Health and Community Services Kristin Kennedy and Town Administrator Connor Read confirm that the Massachusetts National Guard, as part of a new Massachusetts Department of Public Health pilot program which deploys tactical medical support for testing to long-term care facilities in the Commonwealth, will mobilize and respond to the Southeast Rehabilitation & Skilled Care Center today.
Town officials are closely monitoring the situation at the long-term care facility after administrators from Southeast Rehabilitation reported to the Town that they have numerous residents that have confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Additionally, there are several residents that have been tested and are awaiting results, some of which have been hospitalized with symptoms of illness.
In an effort to assist the Southeast Rehabilitation Center, Easton Public Health Nurse Kristina Flanagan and Emergency Management Director and Fire Chief Partridge have been working with the facility to help slow the spread of the virus. Flanagan has worked with Southeast Rehabilitation to provide support to create an isolation floor for confirmed patients and symptomatic residents and moving non-symptomatic residents to other floors.
A pilot program was launched this week by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts National Guard and the State Public Health Laboratory in conjunction with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, to mobilize the Guard at long-term care facilities and rest homes throughout the state in order to conduct extensive testing of residents.
Administration from Southeast Rehabilitation, 184 Lincoln St., requested the service of the Massachusetts National Guard and on Friday members of the Guard will mobilize at the facility to conduct COVID-19 testing of residents.
A small number of Guardsmen and Guardswomen will enter the facility, wearing personal protective equipment and swab the residents. The residents’ samples that are collected will then be delivered directly to the State Public Health Laboratory, which will coordinate with the Broad Institute in Cambridge for testing.
“The COVID-19 crisis requires that we bring all resources – local, state, and federal – to provide to support our communities and particularly long-term care facilities as their populations are at higher risk,” said Town Administrator Connor Read. “Where there have already been confirmed cases of COVID-19 within this facility and dozens of other long-term care facilities around the Commonwealth, we welcome the Massachusetts National Guard to provide this critical support, and we thank Governor Baker’s administration for deploying this critical pilot program yesterday. We want to protect our most vulnerable residents from this deadly disease and we will be monitoring the situation at Southeast Rehabilitation and other long-term care facilities in town.”
Chief Partridge added, “We sincerely hope these efforts will further protect the residents of Southeast Rehabilitation and will hopefully save lives.”