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May 2020 COVID-19 Update – Leslie Marsh, CEO

As we reach the end of the month I wanted to provide an update on our activity at the hospital.  To date, we have had 42 admissions to the hospital, including 24 transfers since April 11.  This overall hospital activity would suggest that, during this time frame, the total positive case rate for our hospital district is/was representative of 850 infected individuals.  Since May, using that same methodology, we would have had about 200 positive cases.  On average people are considered capable of infecting people for around 14 days or if symptomatic 10 days after symptoms first appear.  The median onset of symptoms is 5 days post -exposure.  A recent South Korean study found that people who retest as positive are not infectious.  Testing cannot differentiate between live and dead virus so some people will test positive even when they are no longer infectious.

We are beginning to see some of our patients return to LRHC for conditioning and strengthening.  We anticipate that some of the patients that were in critical condition and on ventilators for an extended period of time, will require rehabilitative, strengthening care in the hospital setting before they are able to return home.  These are not new patients, they were already counted, so you will not see that activity reflected in our admission numbers; however, I will start reporting that data as post-acute COVID census.

As we look at all of the numbers out there, including the Dawson County positive case rate reported through the Nebraska DHHS site, we need to remember that the number of positive cases reported is cumulative and not necessarily indicative of the current activity.  That is encouraging.  The number of people tested has increased significantly, while the number of positive cases has not increased at that same rate.

Still, we know that COVID 19 is in our community.  Importantly, we have the necessary information to help keep us as safe as we possibly can be.  Those practices include all the basics in addition to wearing masks, social distancing and limiting gatherings (see the DHHS or Two Rivers public health websites for the most up-to-date Directed Health Measures).  The basics include things like remembering not to touch your face, washing your hands for 20 seconds after touching potentially contaminated surfaces, avoiding handshakes, hugs and other previously acceptable and likely even desired ways of greeting people and of showing affection, and cleaning surfaces that might be contaminated.

Caution and adherence to those practices that keep us safe, rather than fear, should govern our behaviors and attitudes.  Fear and panic can be disabling.  We can all take pride in our community’s response to this event.  Tyson’s work creating a safer environment and their authentic concern for their team, good infection control practices, including isolation, at local nursing homes and widespread use of masks, gowns and face shields as additions to our standard universal precautions, have all played a role in slowing the spread of this virus.

Jim Hain, an extraordinary leader, friend, mentor and role model to so many, retired Friday, May 22.  The characteristics Jim possesses, remind me of the spirit and foundational underpinnings of the community he has served for the past forty plus years.  The LRHC team and the hospital district have most assuredly risen to the challenge and everyone is doing an amazing job of caring for one another.  The strength in our rural community is a constant source of amazement and pride.  This community continues to come together with compassion, courage and selfless acts of kindness – definitely worth noting during these more difficult times.