June 29, 2020: Town of Bedford Bi-Weekly Update on COVID-19

Important Updates: Available Mental Health Resources, and Crisis Counseling
June 29, 2020: Town of Bedford Bi-Weekly Update on COVID-19

Town of Bedford Update on COVID-19

June 29, 2020

The Bedford COVID-19 Task Force met Monday, June 29, 2020 to review the latest guidance from the Department of Public Health (DPH), the office of Governor Charlie Baker, and Town Legal Counsel.

The COVID-19 Task Force is comprised of the following Town officials:

Sarah Stanton, Town Manager

Jon Sills, Superintendent of Schools

Heidi Porter, Director of Health and Human Services

Robert Bongiorno, Police Chief

David Grunes, Fire Chief

Taissir Alani, Facilities Director

Current Cases

As of today, June 29, 2020, there have been a total of two hundred fifty-six (256) positive cases of COVID-19 reported to the Town of Bedford Board of Health by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH), of those, one hundred forty-five (145) are Bedford residents not living in a healthcare/long term care setting. Forty (40) deaths of Bedford residents have been attributed to COVID-19. The total case number includes residents of the Town of Bedford, including but not limited to those in: single-family homes, apartments, the VA campus, Hanscom Air Force Base, special needs group homes and any and all other larger assisted living/care facilities in Bedford as reported to us by the MA DPH.

As you may be aware, long-term care facilities serving the elderly and congregate care facilities, house susceptible populations with underlying conditions who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Increased testing occurs at these facilities and results in more positive cases being identified. As such, cities and towns with these facilities, like Bedford, experience elevated positive case counts and, unfortunately, deaths due to the vulnerability to COVID-19 of the populations within those facilities.

One hundred thirty-four (134) of the total Bedford cases have already recovered and have come off of isolation and there may other Bedford residents who would be considered persons under investigation in that they are symptomatic, have undergone testing but have not yet received results. There are other individuals impacted by COVID-19 in the community that have not sought medical attention, and/or have not been tested and are isolating at home regardless. Those individuals do not appear on the surveillance reports the Town receives from the MA DPH.

The Board of Health continues to do the appropriate follow-up and outreach to those residents and close contacts known to us and the VA is conducting follow-up and contact tracing of the Veteran’s under their care. Many of the identified close contacts of some of the Bedford cases never exhibited symptoms, have completed their required quarantine period and have been released from quarantine by the Board of Health.

Please note, in part to alleviate the community concern, the VA does do a daily report of their numbers, which includes inpatients, outpatients and staff, many of whom do not call Bedford home. The information can be found here: https://www.accesstocare.va.gov/Healthcare/COVID19NationalSummary

Crisis Counseling offered by the Governor’s Administration  

As part of its efforts to support the behavioral health needs of Massachusetts residents during the

COVID-19 pandemic, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the availability of a new crisis counseling assistance program, MassSupport. Riverside Community Care is providing the crisis counseling under contract with the Department of Mental Health.

To reach MassSupport, anyone in the state can call 888-215-4920 to be connected with local support. Counseling is available in English and Spanish.

For additional information on the MassSupport program please email [email protected] or visit the web site at www.masssupport.org

Mental Health and Social Services Available to Bedford Residents

During this time of purposeful separation from loved ones, friends and neighbors to keep each other safe, feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression may set in or perpetuate. Bedford’s Social Work services remain available to all Bedford residents and the town Social Workers are available via phone and can assist with:

  • Ensuring individuals have food security during this time. Residents who are struggling with having an adequate amount of food in their homes can reach out to the Social Workers for assistance getting connected to the Bedford Food Bank, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP/EBT), and other community resources. The Social Workers will work with residents faced with a hardship and unable to travel outside their homes through food bank home delivery.
  • Information accessing financial supports such as SNAP, unemployment, MassHealth, and utility assistance. 
  • Transportation to appointments and essential services.
  • General support for coping with anxiety during this time. Residents are able to call and speak with a Social Worker who can provide strategies for managing anxiety. 
  • Outreach calls for residents who are experiencing isolation. Residents who are concerned about individuals who are experiencing isolation can contact the Social Workers.
  • Getting residents connected with Health and Mental Health providers. At this time counseling services at the Town Center through Eliot Community Human Services have shifted to a tele-health service and referrals continue to be accepted.  Intakes are being conducted over the phone or by Zoom.  Please note that Bedford residents do not pay a co-pay for therapy through Eliot and lack of insurance is not a barrier to services.

Contacts:

If you are a resident who is 60 or older please contact Social Worker Danika Castle in the Council on Aging at 781-275-6825.

If you are a resident under the age of 60 you can contact Social Worker Christopher Bang in the Youth and Family Services Department at 781-918-4328.

Any Bedford resident seeking mental health counseling or therapy services can contact one of the Social Workers or reach out to Eliot Community Human Services directly at 978-369-1113.

Domestic Violence Services Network, Inc. (DVSN) is continuing to follow up on domestic violence referrals and requests for service on a daily basis and provides community advocacy and safety planning for anyone who calls in or is referred for help and support by law enforcement partners.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, DVSN clients need support more than ever and DVSN shall continue to provide CONFIDENTIAL support, advocacy, and resources via telephone to the extent possible.  For help and support, PLEASE CALL DVSN’s Help Line - 888-399-6111.

Advocates Psychiatric Emergency Service team is always available to offer skilled, compassionate support and connections to resources and services during difficult times. If you are experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis, please call (800) 640-5432 to speak to an Advocates crisis clinician. They are available to help 24 hours a day, every day.

Our colleagues at William James College have made their virtual educational resources and support groups available to Bedford residents. Please use the following links to access these resources:

William James College Virtual Public Events- From Educational/Informational Resources to Support Groups:

https://www.williamjames.edu/community/resource-hub/public-events-calendar.cfm

Mental Health & Wellness Tips During Quarantine:

https://interface.williamjames.edu/guide/mental-health-wellness-tips-quarantine

Order Regarding Non-Essential Elective Procedures and Services

As part of the reopening of Massachusetts, beginning June 8, 2020, at the start of Phase 2, health care providers were permitted to incrementally resume in-person elective, non-urgent procedures and services, including routine office visits, dental visits, and vision care subject to ongoing compliance with public health and safety standards. In addition, beginning June 24, 2020, providers were permitted to resume elective cosmetic procedures, in compliance with public health guidance. All other in-person medical, behavioral health, dental and vision services may resume, except in-person day programs, which will be a part of Phase 3.

MA DPH advises that telehealth must continue to be utilized and prioritized to the greatest extent possible, whenever feasible and appropriate. Care that can be appropriately delivered via telehealth should not resume in person. Health care providers are advised to expand in-person services cautiously, using their clinical judgment to prioritize urgent services, chronic disease management, and preventive care. For more information on the order and associated guidance, visit:

https://www.mass.gov/lists/reopening-health-and-human-services-in-massachusetts#reopening-phase-2-overview-