State officials on Tuesday confirmed the first COVID-related death at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain.
The announcement came as the facility continues to deal with a situation where nearly a third of patients — 61 of some 218 — have tested positive for the virus, state officials said. Forty-two staff members have also tested positive.
The state hospital provides medical and psychiatric care to low-income and other disadvantaged patients, including homeless people and prisoners.
“Early this morning we had our first COVID related patient death on one of our medical units,’’ hospital officials wrote in an email to staff obtained by WGBH News. “While we make every attempt to preserve life with excellent medical and nursing care, this is an illness that requires us to anticipate some losses.”
The death occurred less than a week after the Boston-based Disability Law Center and the state Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee launched an investigation into the treatment of mentally ill patients at the facility amidst coronavirus precautions.
Some staff have also voiced concerns about safety protocols at the hospital, according to union leaders.
Lauren Roy, staff attorney, for the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee said Tuesday she just heard about the recent death and would look into as part of the investigation into the hospital.
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family of the deceased,’’ she said.
The Shattuck Hospital and the Tewksbury Hospital both care for patients under the oversight of the state Department of Public Health and the Department of Mental Health.
Concerned about an outbreak of the virus, the Massachusetts National Guard was deployed to the hospital to help with testing. The state also created special command structures at the hospitals that report directly to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
At least 81 patients and 90 staff have tested positive for the disease at the Tewksbury Hospital, which can care for a population of 394, state officials said.