By DAVE PAXTON
Editor and Publisher
In an opinion piece for the Des Moines Register written on April 1, former Lt. Gov. and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge suggested rural hospitals in Iowa were not prepared for a potential outbreak of the coronavirus. The main point of the article was to encourage government not to ignore the needs of rural Iowa.
“The decisions being made by our nation’s leaders will determine the direction our country takes as we respond to and recover from this pandemic event. Please do not leave rural America behind,” she writes in conclusion.
However, she was specific in terms of suggesting rural hospitals were lacking basic items to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have great rural hospitals that have taken good care of us in the past,” she wrote. “But they were not designed for a pandemic event. If someone here in Albia needs hospitalization that includes being put on a ventilator for several days, they’ll have to go to Des Moines…Providers in every community are ordering protective gear, but backlogs prevent their protective measures from keeping up with the rate of infection.”
Sending people with illnesses beyond the scope of physicians and ER personnel at Monroe County Hospital is not unusual. Heart attack patients, for instance, routinely head to Mercy 1 or Unity Point in Des Moines or University Hospitals in Iowa City.
However, according to Monroe County Hospital and Clinics CEO Veronica Fuhs, Monroe County Public Health Nurse Kim Hugen and ADLM Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Lamb, the local hospital is prepared and equipped.
"MCHC has sufficient and appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for patients and staff based on the IDPH (Iowa Department of Public Health) and CDC (Center for Disease Control) guidance for this pandemic situation,” wrote Fuhs, in response to the newspaper’s question regarding Judge’s opinion. “MCHC, per the governor's orders and in line with IDPH and CDC guidelines, also has our infection control plan in place and operation to identify, treat and if necessary transport patients based on clinical protocols. We are working daily with IDPH, Monroe County Public Health and our EMA, Mike Lamb during this unprecedented time."
“ADLM Emergency Management and Monroe Public Health have both been working closely with Monroe County Hospital to keep them abreast of the changing recommendations from both the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health,” said Lamb. “I have personally worked closely with them to acquire additional PPE from the national stockpile should they have a patient present with Covid-19.”
Hugen added, “I just want to continue to encourage social distancing for everyone. Whether you are at Hy-Vee, Dollar General or a gas station, it is important to maintain that six feet distance from everyone. This is our primary strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19 and we all have a role in mitigating this virus.”
To date, no cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been reported in Monroe County. Appanoose, Wapello and Mahaska Counties have had positive tests.
If anyone has specific concerns about the county’s readiness should a coronavirus outbreak happen, they can contact Lamb at the ADLM office, 641-724-3223, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the website: http://www.monroecoia.us/offices/ems/index.htm.
To contact Hugen at Monroe County Public Health call 641-932-7191 or email@example.com.