Letter to Our Community (11/16)
New cases of COVID-19 are increasing in every state, and hospitalizations are on the rise. Mid-Missouri is following the national trend. Locally, COVID numbers are now higher than they have ever been following a summer season when positivity rates and inpatient admissions were more manageable.
Because more people are now feeling sick or have been exposed to known COVID cases, testing also is on the rise. For the seven-day period ending Nov. 10, a total of 1,058 people sought testing at one of Lake Regional’s facilities, an average of 150 tests per day. On Nov. 9, Lake Regional Express Care staff tested 194 individuals for COVID-19, our largest single day of testing this month.
As health care providers prepare to meet this surge in demand for COVID-19 testing and treatment, along with flu season, we believe it is important for area residents to stay informed and to take precautions to protect their health.
During the seven-day period ending Nov. 13, a total of 623 individuals tested positive in Camden, Laclede, Miller, Morgan and Pulaski counties, which comprise Lake Regional’s service area. Sadly, COVID-19 deaths increased by five during the same week, bringing the total to 114 COVID-19 deaths in the five counties since March.
Camden County had the most new cases. From Nov. 7 to Nov. 13, Camden County added 205 new COVID-19 cases. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the county’s positivity rate was 55.7 percent for the seven-day period. To date, 43 Camden County residents have died from this virus.
Hospitalizations also are climbing across the Midwest and our region. Experts expect the trend to continue and worry that we are edging toward a tipping point. On Nov. 12, the Missouri Hospital Association released a statement saying: “Every region of the state is experiencing increases in positive cases, and hospitalizations are surging. This is putting incredible stress on doctors, nurses, therapists, custodians, and food services and support staff who will continue to suffer additional stress and risk their own infection, illness and mortality.”
You see, it’s not simply the number of COVID-19 patients that stresses the health care system at all levels. It’s the additional resources needed to care for COVID patients appropriately that eventually affects other patients and caregivers. Hospitals throughout Missouri and the country are concerned about bed and staffing availability, and staffing fatigue because of the recent surge.
Locally, Lake Regional’s daily census of COVID-19 positive patients has been trending upward since July. It has been 10 or greater daily since late September. On Oct. 14, we hit a high of 27 inpatient cases. Today, our inpatient census is 85; 24 of those patients are COVID-19 positive. That’s 1 in 4. Throughout the fall, we have treated hundreds more COVID-19 cases in our Emergency Department and Express Care locations.
Here’s What You Can Do
Help each other. If you’re not already, please do two simple things consistently: practice social distancing and wear masks in public. And as you make Thanksgiving plans, please keep in mind that COVID-19 can be especially harmful for seniors and individuals who have underlying health conditions. Take precautions to keep your loved ones safe.
Help those on the front line. As fatigue sets in for all us managing life changes brought about by COVID-19, one of the things that means the most to our caregivers and others on the front line of this fight is your support. It helps to know we are not alone in this crisis.
As we look ahead to Thanksgiving, please join us now in showing our gratitude for frontline workers in our community, including health care workers, first responders, teachers, grocery store workers and others, by displaying a white ribbon of support at your home or business. In addition, employees of area schools and the hospital will be displaying their own pride ribbons of maroon, purple or blue. Watch Lake Regional’s Facebook page for details, and please tell these individuals you are thankful for their service to our community.
Our Commitment Runs Deep,
Dane W. Henry, FACHE
CEO, Lake Regional Health System