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WHAT’S GOING ON AT BMC WITH COVID-19? SOURCE: ‘IT’S A REAL SHIT SHOW’ … WHY IS THE MAYOR HIDING? IS THERE AN INFORMATION LOCKDOWN?

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BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

ADD 1 WEDNESDAY MARCH 11, 2020 shortly after 1 p.m. — THE PLANET received the following information from a high-level source with information relating to BMC’s handling of the initial coronavirus patient. In the interests of the public, we share it here as a supplement to our initial reporting (below).

“Testing at the time the initial patient was diagnosed was strictly controlled by the CDC and DPH,” the source said. “There was no local testing and while that may change in the coming week with commercial labs being allowed to test, it was not the case, and is not the case at this time. Testing was only approved by DPH if they had certain risk factors, including travel, which the initial patient did not. As a result, testing requests were denied for several days and when approved the swab was sent immediately to Boston, driven there by our staff. The DPH testing was not just a confirmation of a local test, it was THE test. It’s called presumptive positive because it then must be retested by the CDC in Atlanta.” 

For more information on testing and the confusing issue of the “presumptive positive” diagnosis, readers should to to the Center for Disease Control website.

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(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY MARCH 11, 2020) — As you will see later in this column, the coronavirus, stubborn as it may be, is preventable and treatable with simple and reasonable precautions. Ignore the simplicity and replace reason with indifference, however, and you’re asking for trouble.

Such seems to be the case with a developing situation at Berkshire Medical Center. It begins with Patient Zero, who tested positive for COVID-19.  Sources say he’s a man in his 60s, from Clarksburg in northern Berkshire County, the last town before you get into Vermont. Zero is an oncology patient who makes regular visits to the hospital. He entered the hospital on March 1 and stayed a week. During that time, he came into contact with dozens of staff and other patients. His doctor, who who sources say is a cancer patient and immune-suppressed, treated him as well as other patients.

Sources tell THE PLANET that Patient Zero was COVID-19 positive but was not treated with the proper protocols. Now, 75 BMC staffers have been ordered quarantined in an attempt to keep the virus from jumping the rails. This comes with the news that 15 teachers at Taconic High School are absent. Meanwhile, Mayor Linda Tyer skipped last night’s city council meeting and ignored a request from THE PLANET for information on the COVID situation. Does this make you more confident in her Administration’s ability to deal with the situation?

Sources tell us there are now 15 or so cases of corona virus in Berkshire County, most presumed, maybe three to five newly confirmed and more being tested. By the end of the month, that number is expected to jump to 45.
BMC’s delay in testing Patient Zero for COVID-19 is one issue. The more serious issue relates to procedure and protocol. Sources say Berkshire Health Systems and Berkshire Medical Center “failed to adequately train its staff, failed to appropriately prepare facilities, and actually violated known and hospital standard protocols for routine safety which has exacerbated this infection cycle. They were told what to do and chose to do the exact opposite. They did not prescreen patients appropriately, especially in immune-compromised treatment facilities such as oncology, where you find the most vulnerable of patients. They did not hold retraining meetings to instruct staff on how to use protective gear that staffers rarely use, nor did they update staff on how to better use the equipment they do use. In fact, they asked staff to violate known safety protocols. They asked nurses to reuse protective gear between patients. Normally you would never do that, but in these situations with the worry of a highly communicable disease, it’s unheard of. They gave bad guidance information in handouts to staff and to the public, even the signs now, as of this morning (Tuesday), are wrong. They ignore CDC guidance from a week ago. They are scrambling to figure out who’s been in contact with whom, and it looks like at least 250 people may end up in self- quarantine.”
Sources say a presumed positive diagnosis can be established locally. The tests sent to Jamaica Plain are confirmation tests. If a patient is presumed positive, he or she is sent to quarantine with the hospital notifying all those in close contact. In the case of Patient Zero, sources say, BHS did not do that: “They waited a week while they scrambled to rebuild visitor logs, patient lists, staff work schedules, things that should have been at hand instantly having known the additional risk. The hospital did not limit access to the oncology area and infusion center. They are in complete damage control mode. They want to control the information because they violated a dozen or so protocols. It’s a real shit show. This is no longer about public health but about not getting sued into oblivion.It’s a real disaster, this is exactly the concern of every state and federal agency. A couple patients taking out an entire hospital staff. Worse case scenario a lot of cancer patients will get infected too.”
Corona Virus spreads exponentially almost every 24 hours. It can exist outside the body for hours if not days under the right conditions. It can be transmitted 30 or more feet. It can be transmitted by people that are not showing any signs of infection. In approximately 25% of the population it is a serious health concern and may be lethal. This is why it is of concern.

A BMC staffer told THE PLANET: “All is chaos here. A doctor may have come in contact with numerous patients, many patients. Which ones? We don’t know yet. How many people did the patient infect? We don’t know that either.  [The] Administration told us not to say anything to anybody. I think I’m going to be off limits for the time being. Lots of confusion and no one wants to share what they know.”

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With all this, we ask where the mayor is during this confusion? Has the hospital kept the city informed of the latest developments? Does the mayor plan to directly address the situation? Or will she stay in hiding, avoiding her responsibilities to citizens and public? THE PLANET ran our information by BHS and BMC, requesting  comment, more information, better information, or, if our information needed it, correction. As of press time late Tuesday night, we had not heard back from the hospital. It appears there’s an information lockdown going on in the city, and we wonder if the rest of the local media, particularly the lone local daily, will lie down and play dead? Or will THE PLANET be the only one not afraid to dig?
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Now that we have your attention, THE PLANET shares a Facebook post from Dr. Abdu Sharkawy. It contains good advice about COVID-19.

Abdu Sharkawy

I’m a doctor and an Infectious Diseases Specialist. I’ve been at this for more than 20 years seeing sick patients on a daily basis. I have worked in inner city hospitals and in the poorest slums of Africa. HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria…there is little I haven’t been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared.

I am not scared of Covid-19. I am concerned about the implications of a novel infectious agent that has spread the world over and continues to find new footholds in different soil. I am rightly concerned for the welfare of those who are elderly, in frail health or disenfranchised who stand to suffer mostly, and disproportionately, at the hands of this new scourge. But I am not scared of Covid-19.

What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world. I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for front line healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others. I am scared that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with anyone who thinks they ” probably don’t have it but may as well get checked out no matter what because you just never know…” and those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled ER waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess.

I am scared that travel restrictions will become so far reaching that weddings will be canceled, graduations missed and family reunions will not materialize. And well, even that big party called the Olympic Games…that could be kyboshed too. Can you even imagine?

I’m scared those same epidemic fears will limit trade, harm partnerships in multiple sectors, business and otherwise and ultimately culminate in a global recession.

But mostly, I’m scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, openmindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.

Covid-19 is nowhere near over. It will be coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some point. Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further. The fact is the virus itself will not likely do much harm when it arrives. But our own behaviors and “fight for yourself above all else” attitude could prove disastrous.

I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.

Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.
Our children will thank us for it.

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Bottom line is this: Stay calm, take reasonable precautions, keep living your life.

——————————————————————

“In a crisis, you want Cool Hand Luke, not Scaredy Cat Linda” — Sir Tiberius Fruitjuice.

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

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Police Report
Guest
Police Report

Time to close the schools, stop elective procedures at BHS.
The mayors speech gave nothing of substance and only took people out of the work cycle for a dog and pony show.
If looking at that group was supposed to inspire confidence I can assure you it did not.
A chief of police who can’t reduce crime, a finance director who can’t add, a superintendent of schools who’s going to have state intervention in his district, and a Mayor who had to be forced by the Governor and his staff to make a statement. It’s the land of broken toys.

Witchy Bluebrew
Guest
Witchy Bluebrew

I agree. The students will be the guinea pigs and go day to day? This is a pandemic situation. Close Schools. Hold the Mayor accountable. She’s useless.

Pat
Guest
Pat

Also, if it spreads among the kids, it will make its way eventually to older adults who are most susceptible to the bad reactions to this virus. The kids are supposedly getting very mild if any symptoms from the virus, but they can still be carriers to other more vulnerable people. So, I agree that the schools should probably be closed for 2 or 3 weeks.

Kopus Charges
Guest
Kopus Charges

That Andrew is the Mayors new buffoon. What are JIV and Curtis thinking wearing boot polish on their hair and beards?

Rac Simmitee
Guest
Rac Simmitee

Why do pics of supporters and mayor always seem morose.

Chuck Vincelette
Guest
Chuck Vincelette

Very disappointed in the mayor. Schools should be closed along with the Froio Senior Center. I enjoy your posting Police Report.

Mr. Fritz
Guest
Mr. Fritz

Well said Police Report!

Merry & Bright
Guest
Merry & Bright

Was the Governor’s visit a surprise? Why did Lovely Linda not mention in her dynamic and vibrant Press Conference that he was going to be here? Secretively strange as usual.

Paul
Guest
Paul

BMC will never change. They can get all the awards that they pay for but it doesn’t change the crappy treatment they provide.

Christel Bawl
Guest
Christel Bawl

So the expert says leave schools open or the students won’t have breakfast or lunch.

Auto Phil
Guest
Auto Phil

Listening to Mayor Tyer stumble through her press conference was painful. She does very poorly at public speaking when she doesn’t have a seriously rehearsed battle speech to pump her fist too. Her attempt to sufficiently tackle factual communication was hard to watch/listen.

Governor Baker on the other hand was quite the breath of fresh air. He was factual, composed and serious, without interjecting unnecessary panic or emotion. I really appreciated his press conference. I am more confident to know the state has basically taken over and is running the show.

Magoo
Guest
Magoo

Lol
Former chief of emergency surgery at Berkshire meat cutters finally chimes in!
Former because of the management much like DK who now runs New Haven Medical all the good people leave Berkshire meat cutters

Thanks sailor I’ll get them Volkswagens running when I get a minute:)
, the voice of reason in a hurricane of stupidity
, thanks again DOC for not only saving my life but being you- and helping me read The Butcher Shop of Ruth Blodgett

Not sure people understand Darwin’s Law- smarts beats muscle – muscle and brains well that’s your apex predator.

Again your the bomb

My
Kid still thrashing tractor like he stole it from someone he doesn’t like 🙂 many thanks.

Magoo

Donna Bordeau
Guest
Donna Bordeau

If your pointing fingers at just the mayor, stop..these non-profit big $$ organizations own the mayor and this city. This is such a disturbing article on so many levels. Why are the nurses not held accountable? They also took an oath to HELP people and to be someone else’s (the administration of BMC) puppet, knowing very well that they could be contaminating other patients makes them just as bad!

Planet Valenti