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Keeping up with COVID protocols

UHD, area care centers are following guidelines

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Dec 13, 2020

Faribault County has not been immune to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state of Minnesota. Though the county may not have as many cases to deal with as surrounding counties, the virus is still a concern the United Hospital District (UHD) has had to deal with.

“We are taking care of people with positive COVID results,” UHD chief executive officer Rick Ash says. “We have taken many measures and precautions to isolate them and to keep our staff and other patients safe. We have procedures and work flows in place in both the clinic and hospital to help accomplish this.”

He explains some of the things being done to ensure everyone’s safety.

“We do regular testing of our staff for COVID. We monitor the staff and the patients every day,” Ash comments. “Whenever anybody enters one of our facilities they are screened.”

Ash talks about the importance of being diligent in preventing the spread in staff members.

“We have to do everything we can to keep our staff and people safe so we are here in the future to take care of people,” he states.

Ash explains some of the difficulty in dealing with this disease.

“One change can have a ripple effect,” he says. “It is amazing how this impacts everything and it can be very concerning.”

Area care facilities also stay busy dealing with the coronavirus.

Margaret Brandt, the director at St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center in Blue Earth, says things are going well right now.

“We have no active cases at this current time,” Brandt comments. “We did experience some positive cases earlier in the year.”

Brandt was quick to applaud the staff working at St. Luke’s.

“They have been diligent and aggressive in following protocols,” she says. “We do have a separate wing which we can use to isolate anybody who may get infected. We also have the ability to have staff members who would be dedicated to taking care of just the people in that wing.”

Kasey Kasel, the executive director for Parker Oaks Senior Living in Winnebago and Clarks Crossing in Wells, provided an update on those facilities

“Clarks Crossing has remained COVID free but we had our first positive case in Parker Oaks the first week of December,” Kasel comments. “We are working through the situation. We used rapid antigen testing to quickly identify and stop the spread.”

The infected patients have been isolated.

“We are fortunate and staffing has not been an issue,” Kasel remarks. “Our nurses our very diligent about following the Minnesota Department of Health protocols.”

Kasel adds the warmer than normal temperatures have also been a blessing.

“Our residents have been able to take walks outside of the building,” she says.

As for when the COVID vaccine might be available, Kasel says she has been contacted and she knows it is in the pipeline but has not been given a date of when it will arrive.

Though things may not be normal, Ash echoes the statements of Brandt and Kasel with how impressed he is with the way the staff at UHD has handled the situation caused by the pandemic.

“We have great people working here,” Ash states. “Our staff is digging in. They know we will get to the other side. They know we will get through this.

“We are all doing our jobs and doing them to the best of our abilities, whether it is the scientists working on a vaccine or our local health care people.”

Ash says UHD is still waiting to learn more about the availability of a vaccine.

“We have limited information at this time and really do not have any specifics at this point,” he says. “However, we are still preparing internally for the arrival of the vaccine so we have things in place when it comes. We know it has to be kept very cold and once it is opened it has a very short shelf life, something like six hours. We have to be prepared so none of the vaccine is wasted.”

Even though the news is dominated by the coronavirus, Ash reminds the public the clinic and hospital are seeing all patients.

“We are here. We are seeing patients and caring for people’s health,” he comments. “I encourage people to see to their health care needs. Do not let COVID take that away from you.”