Members of the Massachusetts National Guard on Thursday suited up and entered the state’s Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain to test low-income patients for COVID-19, WGBH News has learned.
The effort is part of a statewide collaboration between the National Guard and the state Department of Public Health to test residents in long-term care facilities like rest homes and nursing homes for the coronavirus as numbers of cases rise.
State officials on Thursday could not immediately confirm the testing at Shattuck but said guardsmen have been to at least 80 facilities and tested more than 1,300 individuals since the effort began last week. Among places visited, guardsmen headed to a nursing home in Chelmsford last week.
Lemuel Shattuck Hospital serves “economically and socially disadvantaged” patients, according to a state website. The hospital has 255 inpatients beds, according to its website, including 28 beds for state and county prisoners. Internal emails obtained by WGBH also confirmed the visit.
Concerned about the risks to older and sick inmates, the state Department of Public Health this week also announced a new program to allow facilities to collect specimens on their own and send them to a state lab for testing. And officials issued new guidance to protect residents and workers at such facilities.