On behalf of the Westfield Board of Health, I , along with Commissioners Teresa Mitchell MD and Margaret Doody would like to deliver this message to the people of Westfield.
I have sat on the Westfield Board of Health for 25 years. I have never been more proud of the Health Department professionals than I am during this COVID 19 Pandemic.
There are federal and state protocols in place for the investigation of communicable diseases. The health department is dependent upon the laboratories, hospitals and DPH for the reporting of positive COVID19 patients in our community. After receiving confirmation of these cases in Westfield, they will act accordingly to investigate those patients’ contacts and quarantine as necessary. We cannot act upon rumors of cases, nor should anyone in our community listen and panic about unsubstantiated information.
Please be assured that this strong, educated department has had years of special training to deal with a public health emergency of this magnitude.
These are the experts our city needs to turn to and trust. They are working closely with Emergency Management lead by Jim Wiggs, Baystate Noble Hospital, Westfield Police and Fire Departments and other essential city services.
While the rest of the city and much of the population are home, the Health Department; Director Joe Rouse, Debra Mulvenna RN, Evelyn Bristol RN, Code Enforcement Inspectors Thomas Hibert & Steve Cipriani along with Cheryl McMordie and Kathi Cotugno have been putting in long hours and working weekends. In fact, Saturday, a state epidemiologist came and met with Joe and Debra giving them guidance and the reassurance that they are performing to the high standards of public health protocols.
Our main goal is to curb the spread of COVID in our community. One of our goals is to better provide information. We are working to have a public relations person communicate up to date, accurate information to Westfield. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns, call the Health Department 413-572-6210 or Emergency Management 413 642-9360.
Please do your share to help the health department, your family, friends and neighbors. Don’t succumb to inaccurate rumors and panic, wash your hands and practice social distancing. If you having any symptoms of a respiratory illness, stay home and avoid contact with others until symptom free for 3 days and at least 7 days from onset.
At this time (subject to change), testing locally is only being done on patients who are sick enough to require hospital admission and health care workers. If you are sick but well enough to stay home, please stay home so you don’t infect others. If you are well, but nervous and scared about the virus and want to be tested, please stay home so you don’t become infected. The emergency department is the most likely place for you to be exposed.
This letter is focused on the Health Department. But I am also a Nurse Practitioner working for Westfield Emergency Physicians at Baystate Noble Hospital. I am proud to be a member of the Emergency Department and feel they truly need a shout out. The work being done by every department at Noble is dedicated, caring, life risking and challenging. We are adapting to new conditions and protocols hourly.
I am grateful for our Health Department and our local hospital. They are here to care for this community. Please support and trust them during these unprecedented times.
Juanita A Carnes
Chair, Westfield Board of Health