Pender, NE (March 17, 2020) – Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics urge the community to be proactive when dealing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The most important thing people can do right now is to stay home, wash your hands frequently and practice social distancing. Social distancing is a proven tool to stop or slow down the spread of contagious illnesses, such as COVID-19. To practice social distancing, avoid shaking hands, cancel large events, avoid large crowds, and keep a 6-foot distance between you and others.
“It’s critical that we take action now in order to protect our vulnerable population,” said Melissa Kelly, CEO. “Our community has a large, high-risk population that includes older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease. Because of this, it’s imperative to take social distancing and self-isolation very seriously.” For individuals who feel sick or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (symptoms include fever greater than 100.4, cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat) it’s essential that your entire family selfquarantine. If possible, the individual with symptoms should isolate separately within the home, staying in a separated bedroom and bathroom area. When your entire family is under self-quarantine, no one should leave the home unless medical care in needed. This is absolutely essential to avoid spreading this highly contagious virus. Plan to have other people drop off needed supplies outside to prevent the disease from spreading to others. Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics also want community members to know that if you have mild symptoms that appear like a cold, such assneezing, running nose, cough, sore throat, you don’t need to be seen by a provider immediately. Patients experiencing symptoms are first asked to self-quarantine their entire family at home. If symptoms continue for 3 days, are getting worse, you are having difficulties breathing and/or shortness of breath, contact Pender Medical Clinic to visit with a provider. From there, providers will screen over the phone to assess your risk level and determine next steps. “Often, patients who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover and manage their symptoms at home. Waiting three days prior to contacting the clinic will allow medical staff to ensure they are able to treat for the correct condition and that the severity of the symptoms requires medical attention,” said Dr. Matthew Felber, trauma director and primary care physician at Pender Community Hospital and Medical Clinics. “Be sure to get care if your symptoms get worse, you are having difficulty breathing or think it’s an emergency.” It’s hard to understand when looking at worldwide statistics what this means to our own community. To put it into perspective, Pender Community Hospital and Medical Clinics see roughly 12,000 unique patients over a 3-year period. Using this number as a baseline population, the data starts to paint a concerning picture. Based on information we have available it’s estimated that 30 to 70% of our population will be infected with COVID-19. Of those, 10% would require hospitalization. In addition, 3% would need an ICU bed. These generic percentages don’t account for the increased at-risk population within our community compared to others. Population 12,000 12,000 12,000 Percentage of Population Infected 30% 50% 70% Infected Populations 3,600 6,000 8,400 10% Requiring Hospitalization 360 600 840 3% Requiring ICU 108 180 252
Pender Community Hospital is a 21-bed facility and doesn’t have the same amount of resources as larger facilities. Even though PCH does provide services that rival those of larger facilities, when faced with a global pandemic, there simply aren’t enough resources to serve a large influx of patients at once, which could happen if people do not take social distancing, self-quarantining, and other measures to slow the spread seriously.
In addition, the staff at PCH is smaller, so if predictions are correct, the hospital doesn’t have the bandwidth to support the estimated patients who could need care, at one time, if the community is not proactive. Pender Community Hospital and Clinics want to make sure that those who need medical attention will have healthy staff available to properly care for them. PCH stresses that the intent of this information isn’t to scare anyone, but rather to reinforce the magnitude of the situation we are currently facing. People have a very real and important impact on helping our healthcare system, our healthcare providers, our community, and helping to avoid a potential crisis. Please, stay in. Practice social distancing. Finally, if you are sick, self-quarantine is not only important, but vital to protecting yourself and others in this wonderful community that we all share.