FCHD, FCHC release joint message on COVID-19

The Fulton County Health Department and Fulton County Health Center on Tuesday released a joint message regarding COVID-19.

It read:

Schools, businesses and organizations are taking significant steps to keep their employees and students healthy so they can remain open. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation and recognize that everyone misses their usual activities and interactions with others. At this time, our healthcare providers are being impacted.

Over the past several weeks, Fulton County Health Center has seen an increased number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The number of COVID-19 positive patients admitted to the hospital at any one time has been between 4-7 individuals. The average length of stay for these COVID-19 positive patients is anywhere from four to twenty-one days. Our Team is experienced, equipped, and well-accustomed to the precautions necessary to prevent spread while providing excellent patient care. It’s what they do all the time!

Both the Emergency Department and the FCHC Urgent Care have seen significant increases in the number of patients seeking care that have symptoms of COVID-19.

• To date, the hospital has tested 1125 individuals. One hundred eighty-two (182) of those tested were positive. This is a sixteen (16%) percent positivity rate.

Also affected have been the residents of Fulton Manor. The residents as well as the staff undergo continuous testing. The residents have lost the ability to have visitors within the facility and at times to eat in the dining room.

Most concerning is protecting the availability of our healthcare workforce. We will have beds, but we may not have nurses, technicians, doctors, environmental service employees, dietary employees, etc. Like the general population in the community, we have seen an increase in our workforce population’s exposure within community settings (family gatherings, community settings, general activities of daily life), which seem to be the settings for spread that we are seeing in the workforce population.

Since March (when the coronavirus was identified):

· A total of 127 Fulton County Health Center employees (hospital, nursing home, provider offices) have either tested positive or undergone quarantine due to a known exposure.

– This is 15% of our total employee population.

– The total days of work lost to date is 996 days.

Unfortunately, we only see this number rising. Our employees are exhausted, but continue to come to work to care for the residents and patients of Fulton County. This same scenario is happening throughout Ohio and across the other hospitals and nursing homes in Northwest Ohio. These circumstances make it difficult to transfer patients that may need tertiary or increased level care – not just COVID-19 positive individuals, but also individuals experiencing other medical and surgical emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes, or traumas. We evaluate each day the status of our staffing levels, whether we should discontinue elective surgeries, or discontinue other services offered in order to protect our healthcare workers.

In order to continue to have healthcare workers available for all patient care, we ask that you do your part to stop the spread.

Consider these facts:

· The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads from person to person even before symptoms start. Being in close contact with other people makes it more likely that more people will continue to get sick.

· Most of the people who have gotten sick recently report being in close contact with others at extended family gatherings (parties, weddings), through household contacts and general activities of daily life.

· We need everyone to help slow the spread of coronavirus. As we approach the holidays, we have to keep our guard up and remember we still need to do things differently.

· Businesses and schools are taking extra measures to limit contact between people, so they can be open. We all need to remember to make these same adjustments in our own social circles. Our actions in the community to prevent continued exposure will increase the likelihood of schools and businesses being able to stay open.

Social distancing works best when we all participate.

Every decision regarding participation in an activity should be filtered through the following questions:

· Will everyone present be able to maintain distancing of at least 6 feet apart from one another? The risk increases when masks aren’t worn and when distancing and hygiene aren’t strictly prioritized.

· Will everyone be wearing face coverings consistently and correctly – for example, only removed if actively eating or drinking? You can protect your friends and family and make your traditions safer by taking every precaution you can.

· Will hand–washing and sanitizing opportunities be readily available?

· Will cleaning and disinfecting be conducted regularly?

· Will only a small number of people be present, e.g. fewer than 10? Don’t gather with more than 10 people, and always wear masks and maintain 6 feet or more between groups from different households.

If you can’t answer yes to these questions, you need to reconsider participating in that activity. The safest gathering will include only people in your own household. If you will host guests, talk ahead of time about ways to keep the group safe, and make sure everyone understands why it’s important.

As of Nov. 24, 2020, your Fulton County Health Department has recorded 1,220 total cases of COVID-19, 75 total hospitalizations and 25 total deaths. Approximately 50% of each of these totals has occurred during the last 4-5 weeks. As we enter the holiday and winter season, please do your part to slow the increased spread of COVID-19, support the availability of healthcare, and protect your family, friends and community.