PLAINFIELD — Residents aren’t happy the state is planning on using Goddard College as a quarantine facility for the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Select Board held a special meeting Monday night via Zoom, a teleconference application. The meeting, which had about 30 people in virtual attendance, was to discuss the state’s decision to use Goddard College’s Plainfield campus as a quarantine facility for those who are recovering from the virus that causes COVID-19 but don’t have a home. That includes people with mental health conditions, families and children in the custody of the state Department for Children and Families.

Paul Dragon, the director of field services for the state Agency of Human Services, said the state arrived on campus last week to set up the facility. The plan is to use the school’s dormitory space to house the patients while they recover from the virus. Dragon said the space can hold about 150 people, but the state is hoping it won’t go over 100. Their health needs will be served by nearby Plainfield Health Center which will have staff on-site.

It was not disclosed when the facility would start receiving people.

Dragon said the state wants to be transparent with the town, but residents complained that they weren’t involved in the process when the state picked Goddard. They talked about how the process wasn’t democratic and appeared to be hastily put together.

Those that would use the campus would do so voluntarily. There is no forced quarantine order in place so those brought there could leave whenever they wanted. This greatly upset some residents concerned about those carrying the virus coming into town.

Board members Sasha Thayer and Jim Volz were in support of a forced quarantine. Thayer said not having one already is a “grave error.”

“So people understand, this is not we’re asking you to be nice and be responsible. But that you are ordered to maintain quarantine,” she said adding she’s reached out to legislators asking for a forced quarantine.

Baylen Slote, the town’s health officer, did not agree with forced quarantine. Slote said he understands the concern, but forcing someone into quarantine is essentially locking someone up.

Sarah Phillips with the state emergency operations center said if someone wanted to leave the plan would be to return them to the community they came from.

Residents expressed concerns that those brought to the campus could be drug users or criminals, along with bringing in a concentration of people that are known to have a deadly virus.

Jenney Samuelson, deputy commissioner with the Department of Vermont Health Access, said there will be security on campus and if someone chooses to leave they will be accompanied until someone from the state can respond.

Board member Tammy Farnham said this situation is not one that people planned for. Farnham said the state is trying its best to minimize risk and help as many people as it can.

“And so as much as it’s scary for our community as a whole to bring these people here, we also need to recognize and stop and understand what the state is trying to do. It seems like having these people in one place, where they can get the help that they need and organize that in a manner where hopefully they’ll stay, that in turn protects our community more so than to have them wandering around and have no place to go. Truly, I understand how scary this is for all of us. And this is our community and I get that, but we don’t have time. You can see the numbers growing greatly. So my hat goes off to the state to do what they’re doing,” she said.

eric.blaisdell @timesargus.com

(6) comments

PassoverPHC

Addendum: PHC needs to do what it believes is right, as they always do, but also needs to start talking. If they plan to act as a modern judenrat in a ghetto for the people deemed most expendable, and to make decisions that will determine who is worth saving and who can be expended first, well then at least have the chutzpah to address the condemned population on just how, and how much, they are to be put at risk, that’s all. It’s my belief that history may not repeat itself exactly, but it rhymes from time to time.

PassoverPHC

Its been eleven days since this article was published by one of the largest papers in VT. For those living in the shadow of Goddard Colleges physical presence, and that of its ever shrinking contribution to the local economy and culture, it has been 12 days to long to wait for news. More importantly for a plan that is vetted, supplied, and presented to us by experts from the larger medical community. Namely someone we can trust to oversee the proposed site in a way that is safest for the towns residents.

For decades our families have depended on the PHC for our care and guidance on medical issues that scare or mystify us. Which, was why it was so shocking to find out about their quite participation in this half-baked, and less than half outlined plan; without any community awareness, outreach, or input. That shock, fear and anger will not vanish immediately. Especially as the perception of a deception being maintained is ongoing. This will remain the atmosphere until all residents have been openly upraised of the FULL plan, and given a fair opportunity to contribute our thoughts, concerns and maybe even ideas to help.

However, in its current form the "plan" such as it may, or may not be, is a deep betrayal by the PHC. At a time that we need to be able to trust all of our long-established healthcare providers more than ever. For all the incalculable good that the PHC has provided our community, this choice of action could undercut all of the goodwill and trust it has earned from the public. As a result of this and of its silence on this issue now it may never recover that trust. Clearly there is an administrative, institutional perception of obligation, both to the sick and to the state, which is not to be demonized or ignored. But now, more than ever it is on all of us to remind the well intentioned PHC’s leadership of their standing duty to all those living healthy lives here now; practicing the state issued policies of social distancing to avoid a triage situation in our town, that we don't want to be in a new vector of this disease as we approach the peak of the first wave of deaths through our state and country. The duty to not just help the sick, or to oblige the will of politicians, or lawyers, but to do no harm.

Pharaoh (MD), let my people... live!

I am re-posting this with this addendum because PHC needs to do what it believes is right, as they always do, but also needs to start talking. If they plan to act as a modern judenrat in a ghetto for the people deemed most expendable, and to make decisions that will determine who is worth saving and who can be expended first, well then at least have the chutzpah to address the condemned population on just how, and how much, they are to be put at risk, that’s all. It’s my belief that history may not repeat itself exactly, but it rhymes from time to time.

PassoverPHC

Its been eleven days since this article was published by one of the largest papers in VT. For those living in the shadow of Goddard Colleges physical presence, and that of its ever shrinking contribution to the local economy and culture, it has been 12 days to long to wait for news. More importantly for a plan that is vetted, supplied, and presented to us by experts from the larger medical community. Namely someone we can trust to oversee the proposed site in a way that is safest for the towns residents.

For decades our families have depended on the PHC for our care and guidance on medical issues that scare or mystify us. Which, was why it was so shocking to find out about their quite participation in this half-baked, and less than half outlined plan; without any community awareness, outreach, or input. That shock, fear and anger will not vanish immediately. Especially as the perception of a deception being maintained is ongoing. This will remain the atmosphere until all residents have been openly upraised of the FULL plan, and given a fair opportunity to contribute our thoughts, concerns and maybe even ideas to help.

However, in its current form the "plan" such as it may, or may not be, is a deep betrayal by the PHC. At a time that we need to be able to trust all of our long-established healthcare providers more than ever. For all the incalculable good that the PHC has provided our community, this choice of action could undercut all of the goodwill and trust it has earned from the public. As a result of this and of its silence on this issue now it may never recover that trust. Clearly there is an administrative, institutional perception of obligation, both to the sick and to the state, which is not to be demonized or ignored. But now, more than ever it is on all of us to remind the well intentioned PHC’s leadership of their standing duty to all those living healthy lives here now; practicing the state issued policies of social distancing to avoid a triage situation in our town, that we don't want to be in a new vector of this disease as we approach the peak of the first wave of deaths through our state and country. The duty to not just help the sick, or to oblige the will of politicians, or lawyers, but to do no harm.

Pharaoh (MD), let my people... live!

louisprowe

I feel a civic duty to point out that during a national emergency we must be more vigilant not less about protecting our right to information. That is the point. The public must remain vigilant.

And to be entirely frank, I have no great fondness for politics of any sort, never mind Facebook...but here we are. I’ve got some relevant experience. I worked on healthcare policy overseas in diaspora, post-conflict, and rural communities and I studied Law.

The public ought to review the planning and be assured that emergency protocols are in place--put there by infectious disease experts, NOT POLITICIANS. Not by local leaders, or lawyers, not by concerned, or kind people. But by experts on infectious disease and emergency management. Period. Measures like this cannot and should not be rushed through. This invites disaster and suspicion.

The planning I have heard about seems poorly thought out, given the sheer number of variables. We are in an unprecedented crisis. The smallest mistake, a discarded glove, a contaminated plate, and we increase the number infected. There are innumerable things that could go wrong in transporting and administering to a disease vector.

First and foremost, why MOVE infected people, or a vector, into another community? They should stay where they are.

That is why the Cruise Ships were kept off-shore, to ensure that a new vector is not reestablished by recovering patients. We are doing the absolute opposite.

Second, it is not entirely lawful or wise to commandeer private premises for public use during a crisis without full transparency. This happens all the time in third world countries. It is also not without precedent for benefiting stakeholders to count on a paralyzed public to do nothing about it. Goddard is broke. They have a huge incentive to go around the issues. Obscuration of any kind in times of national emergency begs a lawsuit or a revolution. I am calling for neither here.

The State, Town of Plainfield, and Goddard must inform us of the following.

Legal framework:

Does the State have an obligation to inform--to report its interest in using private property to the public?

Does the State have any right to obscure information or right to disclosure in a state and federal emergency?

What emergency law inhibits timely and full disclosure to the public, if any?

Does the public forfeit any rights to access during a said emergency?

Transport:

How are these citizens being transported to Goddard?

How are vehicles disinfected?

Nutrition:

How will they be fed?

How will the food be prepared, served, and disposed of?

Security:

Who will be monitoring these citizens?

How long will they stay, and then where will they go?

What procedure is in place to monitor redress or remedy abuse, negligence, or mismanagement?

Civil Rights:

What rights do they have, and how are they protected?

What rights do they forfeit, if any?

What steps are in place for mental health care for this population?

Is there a quarantine order per citizen?

What if a quarantined person breaks the rules or the law?

Residential impact:

Why wasn’t the public made aware immediately by radio, newspaper, or public notice?

What of the residents living near the center?

Do they have rights and protections?

What are they?

To whom can the public go to with complaints?

Disease vectors and epidemiology:

This population would create a new vector for the virus, what if it spreads?

What pressure does an infected community have on local resources?

What contingencies are being planned for emergencies?

Facility:

Why not use state facilities at UVM?

What contingencies and protocols are set up at the facility level?

Who is in charge, and do they have unique experience in emergency management?

To whom do they report?

What is the chain of local command?

Emergency planning:

Have absolute worst-case scénarios been discussed like a massive local outbreak or problem at the facility?

Personnel:

How are acute patients evacuated?

Do ALL personal have PPE? Is there enough?

What protocols are in place or being taught to staff vis disinfection, work-site hygiene, and coming and going from the facility?

Who is the Chief Medical officer?

What recourse or procedure is in place for infected staff?

Funding:

Who is paying for this, and from what budget?

How much?

Does anyone risk being accused of undue enrichment?

Bottom line:

We are a country of laws. Even the remote appearance of secrecy or obscuration can devastate the public trust during crisis.

Every single question and likely more must be answered in writing and widely distributed before one person is admitted.

Helping our less fortunate and afflicted citizens is a very good thing, but not without a thorough and full explanation of all planning with the public. It is not suitable for those recipients either. They, too, need protection and to know their rights.

All planning must be open source and transparent. Now. Or it must stop.

The residents of both Plainfield and Marshfield deserve full transparency from the State and Goddard. Nothing less. Nothing more. If we must stand up and demand it, so be it. Our lives and the lives of those at risk are at peril.

I apologize if this sort of democratic action irks anyone, but we must do it.

psolindietz

While it is understandable that the state is trying to assist in minimizing the spread of this terrible virus consideration must be given to those people living in that community and the risk to them. The select board is correct in their fears and a remote location should be sought. I reside in the area and don't want to have high risk patients with a potential criminal background wandering in my neighborhood. There are many elderly people in the area and they would be especially vulnerable. If the patients are able to leave when they want the solution of having security with them until the state can respond doesn't sound like a definitive plan.

robin316

[rolleyes]

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.