Occupational Therapist Karla Kruse (left) works with patient Shelbi Gesch, Luverne, who is recovering from surgery on her wrist.

Sanford Luverne urges community to stay healthy, keep appointments

Amid coronavirus concerns, people still get sick and suffer injuries, and they still need preventative care.

Sanford Luverne has been open for these services, and CEO Tammy Loosbrock is reminding community members to take care of themselves, even under the threat of a pandemic.

“I think the biggest message is that it’s important to continue to receive care — for preventative visits, immunizations, well-child care, or for other conditions,” she said. “We have steps in place to keep people safe.”

Physical and occupational therapy patients are among those coming and going from Sanford Luverne.

Rod Fransman, Luverne, was scheduled for a knee replacement at the end of March, just as local coronavirus cases began to increase.

His orthopedic surgeon offered the option to postpone the surgery, but Fransman went ahead with the procedure on March 25

“I am glad I decided to go through with it,” Fransman said. “I got my replacement on the last day they were allowing elective surgeries.”

He entered the physical therapy program and is now working on his program at home.

Physical therapist Holly Sehr told him he could continue in the “graduate” as long as he continued his exercises as prescribed.

“It is so crucial to follow the rehab protocol on a total knee replacement,” Sehr said.

As COVID precautions for safety evolved, Fransman said he wasn’t hesitant to keep up with his therapy appointments and wasn’t any more nervous about being exposed to the virus.

“I figure the harder you work, the faster you get better and that’s what I was concentrating on,” he said.

Sanford Luverne therapy department has a separate entrance from the main hospital or clinic, where staff is screened daily, as are patients. Employees are masked at all times and patients who don’t have masks are provided with them to keep.

Waiting areas are cleaned frequently, chairs are spaced farther apart and reading material is removed from waiting areas.

Loosbrock said she appreciates the efforts of Sanford staff members.

“Our physical and occupational therapists have been flexible with their work arrangements,” she said. “They’ve shuffled times and changed how they operate for our new COVID standards to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Shelbi Gesch, Luverne, needed occupational therapy following a February surgery on her fractured wrist.

“I did think twice about coming in for my therapy when the COVID news first started,” said Gesch, who has asthma. “But once I came here, I realized it was no big deal and very safe.”

She’s doing therapy in Luverne with Karla Kruse and has had orthopedic video visits with Sioux Falls staff.

“They did everything on the video visit they would have done in person,” Gesch said. “Took measurements, checked movement, everything.”

Beyond what is done in the therapy department, Loosbrock said there’s a pandemic awareness throughout the hospital.

“We are looking out for the safety of everyone,” she said.

“Any patients with COVID-type symptoms are seen on a video visit by a clinic provider, and if they need to be tested, this is completed as a drive-up test in their car to prevent exposure inside our building.”

She said patients with symptoms have a separate waiting area, and they are checked in at a different location.

“We have implemented many things to ensure patients can continue to receive their preventative care at our facility,” Loosbrock said.

Sanford Luverne had halted many services to ensure there would be enough supplies to care for Covid patients, if needed. 

“With that being said, we are probably at about 70 to 80 percent of what we were doing prior to all of this,” Loosbrock said.

“We started resuming surgery last week and are at about 50 percent of what we were doing before as we ramp back up. For surgery patients, we are doing a Covid test 72 hours prior to try to ensure they are negative at time of surgery.”

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