Local Hospital Is Prepared
It is yet to be determined how the novel coronavirus will affect the Marshall County region, but whatever lies ahead, the Marshall County Healthcare Center (MCHC) is prepared.
“Our little hospital is right in line with all the guidelines concerning the coronavirus,” said MCHC CEO Nick Fosness. “We have an emergency response team working with Marshall County Emergency Manager Todd Landmark. “We’re doing some of the really worst-case scenario planning and we’re ready and supplied well. I have the utmost confidence in our clinical staff if things go south.”
Fosness also stressed that the clinic is open for business as usual.
“We’ve had some people think we are closed, but all departments of the hospital and clinic are open and ready to serve patients.”
The MCHC has implemented a number of changes to date. There are no visitors allowed except for critical need patients. Fosness stressed that critical need is defined by the hospital, not by the visitor, and that the reason is to protect patients, which are mostly elderly, along with staff and visitors themselves.
“If we get to the point where COVID-19 is spreading, we don’t want to be the facility that spread it all around,” said Fosness. “We’re doing what we can preventatively.”
To that purpose the Wellness Center at the hospital was closed on Monday until further notice. Fosness said that cardiac rehab and physical therapy patients will still be provided treatment.
Although the clinic is open as usual area residents are asked to do a few things differently. Patients are asked to not bring others with them when coming to the clinic (kids with moms, etc.). Fosness also stressed that people who are sick should call ahead and must put on a masks when reaching the hospital.
Currently the hospital is not able to conduct the actual test for coronavirus on site, but it is able to do the testing procedures and forward those to the state for testing. The test is only available to individuals who have been screened by a provider and referred for the test
Ȧbout 80 percent of patients who have COVID-19 can be treated at home. The rate of patients who experience serious complications is only slightly higher than that of seasonal flu. Typical symptoms of COVID-19 are a fever of over 100 degrees, a cough, and shortness of breath. Anyone who is experiencing difficulty breathing or an extremely high temperature should call the clinic at 605-448-2253.
“What’s difficult is that it’s still flu season, and people who have a temperature and a cough may have the flu and not COVID-19,” noted Fosness. “Part of our procedure is to talk to all patients about what they have been doing like traveling or ridden on public transportation. There is a whole list of things to try to narrow down the risk of the cornoavirus.”
MCHC has also implemented a receptionist at the front door to control who is entering the facility.
“The worst thing is losing a human life, and we take that very seriously in hospital planning,” added Fosness. “We are also lucky to have the resource with Avera that we do.
“The fear of the unknown is scary,” concluded Fosness. “It almost feels more like post-911 society than dealing with sickness. This one just has a different flavor and it’s almost like a war in our country.
“We wish we had a crystal ball to see to what extent our prevention efforts are working or not working, but we just don’t know. The best we can do is to prepare, and I have confidence in our healthcare team here and our connections with the Avera system that we are ready to face it.”
How To Protect Yourself
●Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
●Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Immediately wash hands.
●Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
●Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
●Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
●If you are sick, limit close contact with others as much as possible.
●Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcoholbased hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.