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South Coast Hospitals Don't Have Enough Test Kits, But They Have Ventilators Aplenty

Jennette Barnes



The largest hospital group on the South Coast hopes to open a drive-through testing site for coronavirus as soon as possible—maybe even Thursday.

But as of Wednesday, Southcoast Health did not have enough test kits, according to CEO Keith Hovan. He spoke on the steps of New Bedford City Hall at a press conference with city officials.

Hovan said the hospitals have just under 200 test kits for a patient population in the South Coast region of more than 350,000 people.


“And we're actually sending a fair number of folks home without having been tested because they don't meet [criteria],” he said.


Southcoast Health operates hospitals in Wareham, New Bedford and Fall River.

Hovan said the hospitals are well prepared in other ways. They have canceled elective surgeries, freeing up those units for virus care. And when they upgraded to new ventilators earlier this year, they didn’t throw the old ones out—so, unlike many hospitals, they have plenty of ventilators on hand.


"We have had the good fortune this year of upgrading our ventilator fleet to newer ventilators," Hovan said. "And we had the foresight to not turn in our old ventilators. So we have an abundant supply, for the time being, of those devices and those items that we need to create an environment that is going to be safe for patients."


Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.