Hospital, SWHHS prepare for coronavirus
As Rock County and surrounding communities grasp new realities of the coronavirus pandemic, Sanford Luverne is taking its own measures as the local health care leader.
“We are doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing and responsible event management,” said Tammy Loosbrock, Sanford Luverne CEO.
“We want to reduce the overall number of infected persons and by slowing the spread, we will protect the resources we have to manage the infection.”
According to local public health officials, patients are being tested for the virus in southwest Minnesota, and as of Tuesday there were no confirmed cases.
“However, we do know it’s out there,” said Lauren Mellenthin, emergency preparedness coordinator for Southwest Health and Human Services.
“Our tests are limited to at-risk or high risk patients, and it takes three to five days to get results. … People need to absolutely stay home unless they absolutely need to go out for supplies or emergencies.”
Loosbrock said hospital workers are implementing protocols to protect regular clinic or rehabilitation patients by keeping areas as clean and separated from risk as possible.
“Patients who have any indications of COVID-19 through their travel or exposure history or current health will be immediately taken to a private exam room,” she said.
“Patients who exhibit respiratory symptoms of any kind will be taken to a separate area for check-in and waiting.”
She said people who think they might have COVID-19 should notify the clinic (507-283-4476) when calling in to schedule an appointment.
Visitors and patients are screened for fever/chills, cough, difficulty breathing and travel history.
“We will allow only one visitor per patient and ask that only immediate family members visit at this time including parents, guardians, siblings, grandparents, spouse or significant other,” Loosbrock said.
Mellenthin said local emergency managers are distributing extra supplies, such as personal protective equipment, to local hospitals and helping them prepare for coronavirus patients.
Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian weighed in on local hospital resources in a letter to the community.
“It is critically important during this pandemic that we use our healthcare resources wisely,” he said.
“Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical healthcare needs.”
State approves funds to support health agencies
Meanwhile the state Legislature unanimously approved $200 million to assist the Department of Health and local health agencies.
Specifically the intent is to make resources available to hospitals, providers, ambulance services, long-term care facilities, and other entities involved in the response to this outbreak.
Rep. Joe Schomacker, Luverne, announced the decision March 18.
"We need to make sure our hospitals have the support they need to deal with this unanticipated crisis," he said.
Schomacker said there are taxpayer protections in the bill including legislative oversight, consequences for unauthorized use of funds, and returning money that goes unspent back to the general fund.
"These funds will not be use for building renovations, unless it’s to change the purpose of a room into a quarantine room," Schomacker said. "Temporary construction can happen, permanent construction cannot."
He said he hoped all the money won’t be needed, but that state leaders will err on the side of caution when funding health resources.
"It is critical that those who are caring for the sick have the resources needed to deal with this pandemic," he said.