Chesprocott gets needed PPE; residents urged to wear masks, Gaylord offers virtual lecture to relieve stress of COVID-19
CHESHIRE—Chesprocott Health District’s task to protect, promote and improve the health and safety of all residents in its three-town district of Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott has taken on greater meaning since the COVID-19 pandemic came to the area.
While the ups and downs associated with the virus continue, on Tuesday, Chesprocott director Maura Esposito, who is now urging all residents to wear cloth masks, was inspired with a community effort to help get much needed PPE (personal protective equipment) for area health providers. Chesprocott also is supporting an effort by Gaylord Hospital to alleviate some mental stress associated with the virus.
Chesprocott received PPE supplies from the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Strategic National Stockpile. The PPE consists of surgical masks, N95 masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields that were distributed to public health and healthcare partners.
“When we learned we were getting the PPE, we were excited,” Esposito said. “But the problem was we don’t have trucks at Chesprocot,t or any way to get to the National Guard distribution center in North Haven. Heavy Weight, Inc. owner John Hilzinger stepped up and donated a truck to pick up the PPE. Ray Sima (member of the Chesprocott Board of Directors) offered to drive the truck.
“He went to North Haven and got our 13 pallets of PPE. (Cheshire Superintendent) Jeffrey Solan allowed us to store the PPE at Cheshire High, Cheshire Board of Education people unloaded it and the Cheshire Police helped with security. It was an incredible community effort with so many people stepping up.”
The PPE was distributed to 11 other health departments in the region. Each local health department distributed the PPE to their community organizations and healthcare centers.
While Esposito was inspired by the community effort and happy to get the PPE, there were some mixed emotions.
“We were excited to get the PPE,” Esposito said. “There were a lot of gloves and gowns. But I hoped to get a lot more N95 masks and surgical masks. There is certainly the need for gowns and gloves, but we really need the masks for our health providers. We got four boxes of N95 masks, about 30 N95 masks. It’s not a lot.
“We are told there will be another batch of PPE coming. We’re hopeful we’ll get more N95 and surgical masks at some point.”
On Friday, there were 67 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Cheshire involving residents aged 16-95 with five fatalities. There are 27 in Prospect and 60 in Wolcott.
“There are 43 households with residents who have tested positive,” Esposito said. “Confirmed cases are still coming in. We have also been getting a lot of questions on cloth masks. Everyone should be wearing a mask or something to cover their mouth and nose.
“The whole idea is that someone who may be asymptomatic may go to a grocery store and they don’t know they are infecting others. If you cough, that mask will protect people. As a double precaution some medical people are even using a cloth mask with their surgical mask.”
Chesprocott Public Health Specialist Kate Glendon said many people in the community have stepped up to make homemade cloth masks and donated them to Chesprocott. They are being distributed to home health aids who visit the elderly and other medical providers.
Glendon also said Chesprocott is supporting a free Zoom (virtual) wellness lecture in conjunction with Gaylord Hospital on April 23 from 11 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. The lecture will be presented by Laura Liistro, LCSW and will offer how to keep a positive mindset during the COVID-19 pandemic. Go to www.gaylord.org for more information.
“We still have a way to go with this virus, we’re still in a holding pattern,” Esposito said. “Wearing a mask doesn’t mean you have full range to go out and do anything you want to do. You still need to do the social distancing and be mindful of those around you.”
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter at the New Haven Register for 36 years.