The Osceola Medical Center is prepping for active cases of the coronavirus. The hospital has adopted new measures to protect workers, ensure the safety of current patients and effectively help as many people as possible. But Bob Wolf, the Director of Community Engagement, said the hospital is always diligent about those kinds of things.
“We’re in health care, this is what we do,” said Wolf. “The level of preparedness is always there. When things like this ramp up then we take some additional steps to go forward.”
The Center for Disease Control has published a checklist of sorts to help identify the symptoms of coronavirus. Those symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Should local residents come down with those symptoms, the medical center recommends calling before coming in.
“The first part of the process is if you’re not feeling well, make that call so we can triage you to the right place,” said Matt Forge, the Osceola Medical Center Chief Executive Officer.
Wolf said this is in order to help those who think they may be sick while at the same time protecting hospital staff and current patients.
“There’s some fundamentals with it because it is contagious,” he said. “We want to make sure we help you if you have it, but we also want to make sure we help the rest of the community who doesn’t. So there’s elements we’re doing that help both of those parties so we’re all safe and we can get healthy and get over this.”
Even patients who have those symptoms and need to come into the medical center will first be tested for the flu before jumping to COVID-19.
“If your test comes back negative (for flu), but still your indicators are pointing in that direction, then we’ll test for coronavirus,” he said.
As the pandemic continues to spread, so to does the misinformation about it. Trying to mitigate this misinformation is a priority for the medical center.
“We’re starting with our own people, they’re our best spokespeople,” Wolf said. “We’ve got some posts out on social media, we also are directing people to CDC and in our case the Wisconsin health department websites. All of those agencies are following the same sorts of criteria.”
Other portions of the internet are less helpful though, and Wolf said it’s difficult to sort through what’s accurate and what’s not.
“What we can’t help is what people get off the internet and social media that’s not accurate,” he said. “We try our best to get our stuff out there. We’re not the one person that makes the communication but we’re sure part of it.”
Wolf pointed to organizations like the other medical centers in the area, the Polk County public health department and the local school districts as good sources of information. He said while COVID-19 is something to take very seriously, it’s most helpful if people remain calm and keep taking care of their health in general.
“We don’t want to downplay this virus, but the treatments are quite similar to the flu,” he said. “Stay at home, get your rest.”
CEO Forge echoed that statement and said regardless of how the pandemic evolves, the medical center will be able to take care of those in need.
“We’re prepared to handle whatever comes at us,” he said. “We want to support our community though this. We’re here for them and want to make sure the community knows we’re watching and paying attention and preparing for anything that could or will come to us.”