Medical Center Update for April 22

Wed, 04/22/2020 - 1:00pm

BIHS COVID-19 Update

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Dear Block Island Community,

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day was initiated in response to growing public awareness of the destructive effects of human activity on the natural world, biodiversity and the environment as a whole. Today we recognize the impact the environment has on our health. Today, we celebrate the potential we have as individuals and global citizens to protect the health, wellbeing and vitality of our communities while safeguarding the survivability of our planet.

Your efforts to keep Block Island safe are working: There are no new suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our community at this time.  This good news is the direct result of everyone’s hard work and care. Now is NOT the time to let down our guard. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis is a marathon, not a sprint, but together we can continue to keep our community safe. Stay vigilant! Never was dogged Block Island perseverance and looking out for one another needed more than now.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in all states, including Rhode Island, and remains a threat to the health of our community. As of April 21st, Rhode Island has 5,500 confirmed cases and 171 deaths. The sobering fact is the United States now has 776,093 cases and 41,758 deaths. The immense human toll cannot be overstated. This should not instill panic but should reinforce our commitment to do all we can to minimize spread while treatment and vaccine development takes place and while rapid testing becomes more widely available.

COVID-19 TESTING on Block Island

The Medical Center expanded testing in accordance with evolving State guidelines and testing capacity. We encourage anyone with concerns to reach out to the Medical Center by phone to discuss their signs and symptoms or possible need for testing.

  • The Medical Center continues to provide testing for COVID-19 for symptomatic individuals
  • If you are ill or think you may need testing, please call the Medical Center and we will guide you on next steps.
  • Keep in mind that COVID-19 symptoms are varied. Most people are aware that it may cause fever, flu-like symptoms, cough and chest tightness, however it may also cause sore throat, GI symptoms like nausea or diarrhea or severe fatigue.
  • Individuals who have traveled off island for any amount of time for any reason are at higher risk.
  • Individuals who have been in direct close contact with a COVID-19 patient are at higher risk

If you become ill with fever or flu-like symptoms, reach out to the Medical Center by phone; CALL FIRST before coming to the Medical Center so we can ensure the safety of all Block Islanders. Together we will work out next steps and ensure you receive the care you need. (401) 466-2974 ext. 3

On April 20th, the amended Town of New Shoreham Emergency Ordinance went into effect, allowing for limited work activities with precautions. We urge caution for all Block Islanders and rigorous adherence to the guidelines below and to the directives of the updated Town Ordinance. The updated Town Ordinance was crafted with input from the Medical Center and with focus on the health, safety and welfare of our community.

We are aware that the “Shelter in Place” ordinance may increase distress experienced by individuals caused by social isolation from friends and family members. For this reason, we ask every Block Islander reach out by telephone every day to at least two individuals by telephone “just to check in.” We especially encourage everyone to think of our elderly or those who may live alone and reach out to them, ensure they are OK and that they have what they need.


  • Follow the Shelter in Place
  • Maintain social distancing at all times.
  • Wear a mask or scarf when in public.
  • Self-quarantine for 14 days when returning from ANY trip off island.
  • Reach out to the Medical Center by telephone if you feel ill or if you have a known COVID-19 exposure.
  • Follow healthy living guidelines to stay strong:
    • Get regular exercise, such as walking, every day!
    • Ensure you are getting good nutrition with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains--decrease processed foods and sugar
    • Get 8 hours of sleep every night
    • Avoid or eliminate tobacco use and excessive alcohol intake
    • Create a healthy daily routine, with a schedule to avoid boredom
    • Connect with others by telephone or video chat regularly
    • Reach out to the Medical Center to address any health concerns or health maintenance issues that need attention

Stay home and stay safe. By protecting your own health, you are protecting everyone’s health.

Medical Center Current Operations

The Medical Center recognizes the need for continued primary and urgent care of our patients and that unique health concerns arise in a time of uncertainty or crisis. We are here and continue to respond to our community’s needs.

The Medical Center is scheduling telephone visits with Dr. Clark. Please call (401) 466-2974 ext. 3, Monday through Friday between 9 AM and 3 PM to schedule an appointment.

  • The Medical Center continues to respond to all acute care and urgent issues.
  • We are conducting doctor’s visits by telephone or video-call whenever possible. Calls can be scheduled by calling (401) 466-2974 ext. 3, Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 3 PM.
  • BIHS behavioral health services will continue by telephone or video conferencing. Please call the Medical Center if you need assistance contacting a provider.
  • PT services will continue for essential visits only with special precautions; PT telehealth visits are available, please call Alison Warfel to make an appointment. (401) 466-2974 ext. 6
  • All BIHS Wellness and Risk Reduction Program visits are suspended.
  • BIHS Women’s Health visits are postponed until May.
  • Please call the Medical Center for any questions or if you would like to schedule a phone or video visit for medical or behavioral health.
  • During this anxiety provoking time, if you or a loved one is having difficulty coping, please reach out to the medical center for assistance. We are here to help, and our behavioral health team is here to provide telehealth services as needed.


Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But, they say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise you can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet the sky is no longer thick with fumes but blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi, people are singing to each other across the empty squares, Keeping their windows open so that those who are alone may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighborhood so that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting.
All over the world people are looking at their neighbors in a new way.
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality...
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that,
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is here,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

Br Richard Hendrick, OFM Cap.

Online resources to support your health, check them out!