[Fergus Falls, MN] As the CEO of Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) and having oversight of Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services (PRHHS), Mill Street Residence Assisted Living, our Cancer Care & Research Center and the nine community clinics we operate throughout the region, I want to reassure the people we serve that we are well-prepared to care for you and your families in the event the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) enters our area.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a contagious respiratory virus that started identified Wuhan, China, and now has spread to multiple countries including the United States, and as of this weekend has been confirmed in Minnesota.
Our staff is working diligently to prepare for the potential arrival of COVID-19 in our communities. We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and state health departments, our partners in emergency medical services and other agencies to stay apprised of the latest information and to prepare for possible testing and treatment of the virus. We have an interdisciplinary operations team implementing the proper protocols for screening and caring for patients in our ambulatory and hospital locations. We are ensuring we have ample supplies, dedicated staff and appropriate and equipment to care for any patients with COVID-19.
While this situation is changing and evolving quickly, we are committed to following and sharing only credible, data and evidence driven information sources and to be anticipatory but balanced in response to new developments.
What You Should Do
For now, based upon the information available to us, risk remains low in our region and our message remains focused on prevention. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Our best advice is to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Additionally, the CDC recommends travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel worldwide; Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease, which entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.
Because risk is low, and because most cases of coronavirus are able to manage and recover from the illness by staying home, resting and drinking plenty of fluids, as of today we are offering the following guidance: Patients who think they may have COVID-19 are asked to call us before coming to a healthcare facility. If you experience the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, shortness of breath and coughing) and you have traveled to an area that has been reported for known infections of the COVID-19, or have recently been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, do not come directly to a healthcare facility. We ask you to call first for a phone consult for us to gather specific patient health history and recent travel information. The phone numbers for our facilities are listed below. If it is determined that the patient has potential COVID-19, a care plan will be developed for appropriate treatment in an isolated hospital room or quarantined area to prevent further exposure to others.
Thank you for your help in preventing the spread of this and other respiratory diseases. We will continue to communicate further as additional updates are available regarding our COVID-19 initiatives and the community impact of this virus.
Helpful Phone Numbers:
Lake Region Healthcare Fergus Falls Clinic: 218-739-2221
Lake Region Healthcare Fergus Falls Hospital (24 hours): 218-736-8000
Prairie Ridge Hospital & Health Service Elbow Lake Clinic: 218-685-7300
Prairie Ridge Hospital & Health Services Morris Clinic: 320-589-4008
Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline: 651-201-3920
For updates on COVID-19, please watch the following websites:
About Lake Region Healthcare
Lake Region Healthcare is living out its vision to be Minnesota's preeminent regional healthcare partner. With over 85 medical staff and over 900 employees, its team is dedicated to serving its patients and community with integrity, teamwork, compassion and excellence. For more information about Lake Region Healthcare, visit www.lrhc.org.
About Prairie Ridge Hospital & Health Services
Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services is a private, non-profit health care organization providing clinical and hospital services in several small rural communities. Bringing specialty and sub-specialty physicians to patients through a vision to lead collaborative efforts that improve the lives of the people they serve by providing quality healthcare and outstanding customer service. More info at www.prairiehealth.org.