Brandon Woods sees 18 Covid cases

Apr 16, 2020

On April 10, there were only two Covid-19 cases at Brandon Woods. Now, the number of confirmed or presumptive cases among residents and staff is 18.

CEO of nursing home parent company Essex Group Management Frank Romano said all the steps are being taken to test, isolate and reduce the spread of the virus. 

According to Romano, affected residents have been moved to a separate 16-bed self-contained unit with its own entrance and exit and dedicated staff. Presumptive cases are isolated separately in the back of the facility until their tests are completed.

“We’ve bought more beds in the last 30 days than we have in a long time,” he said.

Brandon Woods now has a program to conduct regular tests in their facility along with help from the Broad Institute and MIT, who have sent a mobile testing unit. 

Additionally, MIT has provided personal protective equipment such as face shields — something Romano says his staff has been trying to source from everywhere such as Amazon and the state’s stockpile.

“I spend the bulk of my day dealing with PPE,” he said. “It has been a challenge.” 

Romano says one of the reasons nursing homes such as Brandon Woods have seen such a spike in numbers is despite taking early precautions like closing down to visitors, asymptomatic staff can still carry the virus and spread it among people who are generally close together.

“We’re tinderboxes for this kind of pandemic,” he said. 

He also cites recent labor shortages as a reason for the spread, saying staff such as nurses and CNAs have to work across the multiple facilities since they have to work multiple shifts and bring the virus in already cleaned buildings, something Romano called “a Pied Piper kind of scenario.”

So far, no residents have been hospitalized because of the virus.

Kelly Almeida’s 69-year-old father is a resident of Brandon Woods.

“It’s very eerie in his hallway,” she said. “A lot of the residents in his unit tested positive.”

The Dartmouth resident said that her father has tested negative for the virus twice, but that he is “nervous”.

“It’s very scary,” she said. “It’s a hard situation...I call him often as I am sure it’s lonely being confined to his room.”

But Almeida noted that the nursing home has been good with communication.

“They call me with updates as they have them,” she said. “My father’s unit nurse has been great. Always ready to answer any of my questions and ease my nerves.”

“I think they are doing the best they can,” she added. “I hope we all pass through this surge with ease and grace.”

This article has been updated to include comments from a resident’s daughter.