Five Covid-19 deaths at Brandon Woods as cases climb

Apr 24, 2020

Two weeks after announcing its first positive cases of Covid-19, five Brandon Woods residents have died from the illness, according to CEO of parent company Essex Group Management Frank Romano.

Romano said that there are 42 cases in a separate self-contained unit, half of which he said are asymptomatic. He did note that seven residents have recovered from the virus and back to their own rooms.

“When the virus hits, it really has a negative impact on the residents,” Romano said. “It’s just devastating.”

Four of the residents who died were transferred to a hospital prior to their deaths and one died at the Dartmouth facility.

Additionally, twelve employees are in self-quarantine because they are symptomatic, Romano said, with one coming back to work after testing negative and no longer showing any symptoms.

He said that any staff member who has tested positive would be paid during their time self-quarantining so they would not have to use any sick time, and nurses working in the Covid unit are paid time and a half.

Currently, the National Guard is conducting regular tests on residents in Brandon Woods along with help from the Broad Institute and MIT, who sent a mobile testing unit.

The mobile testing unit conducted tests on staff on April 24 after cancelling tests on April 21. 

Romano attributed the delays to longer-than-expected wait times from tests on staff and residents at the New Bedford Brandon Woods facility.

“When you’re doing tests on residents who are older, you can’t conduct them in a hurry,” he said.

The nurse said that many of them were also working without gowns or face shields until April 20, with just one N95 mask per staff member for the week.

“We have to wear the same one for a week, but that is protocol in most places now,” explained the nurse, who added that the facility is “very chaotic.”

“Everyone is in fear, but we all have to do our best to not show it in front of the residents,” the nurse said.