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Public Urged: Step Up to Control COVID Spread

     With the alarming increase of COVID cases in McCook and the surrounding area, Community Hospital, Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department, and the City of McCook, urges the public to step up personal precautions of mask wearing, social distancing and diligent hand washing.

     “Red Willow has had 64 positive COVID cases in the past 14 days and the rate of positives is increasing by the day,” said Troy Bruntz, Community Hospital President & CEO.

     He added that the influx of COVID-positive cases is affecting Community Hospital and could also affect the City of McCook for a number of reasons:

  • A number of Community Hospital staff and other medical personnel are not able to work right now due to isolation and quarantine requirements. Staff shortages are being managed at this time, but there is concern if infections increase.
  • The City of McCook has concerns the outbreak could affect staffing of fire, EMS, police departments and other essential services if the rate of COVID positives continues to increase. Please help protect them.
  • Community Hospital has five COVID-positive inpatients as of October 12. The hospital has a maximum capacity of seven COVID-positive patients with the current setup. COVID patients require negative pressure rooms. The hospital’s capacity for COVID patients could only increase if major modifications were made to the building and the areas patients are being cared for. If that move were to happen, all non-emergent surgery cases would be discontinued.
  • Community Hospital has had a minimum census of two COVID patients for two weeks, most commonly staying at four. These are not the same patients. Many have been admitted, treated and discharged.
  • Community Hospital is experiencing increased difficulty in transporting patients to larger hospitals which are experiencing higher incidents of COVID patients. With the rise in COVID cases, many Nebraska hospitals are feeling a strain and are having to prioritize taking care of patients in their area prior to accepting transferred patients. The healthcare system could get strained to the point care is compromised. This is a statewide situation—hospitals are becoming essentially full.
  • Community Hospital is also not accepting out of area COVID-positive transfers and recently in-area COVID-positive transfers with mild symptoms. To date, these patients have been accepted elsewhere. While this is a difficult decision, Community Hospital is dedicated to caring for our region. We need to ensure we have the capacity for more critical COVID-positive patients should the need arise.
  • In a meeting last week, Community Hospital and other Nebraska hospitals communicated their concerns of possible staff shortages and the number of COVID beds available across the state to the Governor’s office and the State of Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anthone.
  • Without compliance of mask wearing, social distancing and diligent hand hygiene in our communities, this situation will continue to strain emergency personnel and healthcare facilities.
  • Please make the community’s well-being a top priority. It has been proven that wearing a mask protects the people around you by trapping droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs, or sneezes. We are not protected unless those around us are also wearing a mask.
  • Even if you feel well right now, someone who begins having symptoms has actually been shedding the virus for two days before a symptom starts. This means anyone that you have been in contact with would potentially need to quarantine for 14 days.
  • If you are gathering indoors with people from outside your household, you could be at high risk for either contracting or transmitting the virus. If this gathering happens without masks, the risk goes up. If the gathering is large, the risk goes up. If you have let down your guard, it is never too late to make a change. It could save someone’s life. Please help us spread the word.
  • If you suspect you have COVID, it is important to call before arriving at the medical facility or tell dispatch if you feel you need emergent care. COVID-suspecting patients can quickly infect the healthcare workers and other staff leaving the organizations short staffed.

“There is no need for panic,” Bruntz said. “We have plans. The problem is that the plans require sacrifice with which we would prefer not to make. If we must, we will and our staff will do extremely well as they have been for so many months. We ask our community for their due diligence in mask wearing, social distancing, and handwashing to slow the COVID spread.”

Community leader, Brian Esch, MNB President and CEO added, “As we live in rural America, we tend to believe that COVID-19 is no big deal. Unfortunately, this virus knows no boundaries. I hope all of us can work together to remain healthy by wearing masks, washing hands, and practicing social distancing. Our goal is to maintain access to quality healthcare, keep business and education open, maintain quality of life, and the economy growing. I pray for a quick defeat of the virus and disease.”

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