Planning and collaboration efforts continue as Sleepy Eye Medical Center navigates the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.

Planning and collaboration efforts continue as Sleepy Eye Medical Center navigates the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.

These efforts include daily meetings amongst SEMC leadership and regular calls with local and state health officials, local emergency management and law enforcement, and neighboring facilities like New Ulm Medical Center.

“Communication, teamwork and partnerships have helped us appropriately address the situation at hand, care for the unique needs of our community and county, and prepare for the possible influx of patients in the days ahead,” said Kevin Sellheim, SEMC Administrator.

Sellheim stressed that patient care remains a top priority during this time, even if the methods of providing care look and feel a bit different.

“We’re still here to care for our community and patients, and we want you to know that,” said Sellheim. “If you are sick and feel you need to be seen, please do not hesitate to contact us.”

Nurses are available by phone to help determine the best route of care for patients — whether that be an e-visit, phone visit, or in-person visit. SEMC Emergency Department services remain available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as are local emergency services.

Sellheim also commended the community’s recent social distancing efforts, one of the known and proven ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“As a small, tight-knit community, avoiding contact with others and staying home are not in our nature. We applaud and thank those who are following the Stay at Home order. We urge you to continue your efforts in the coming days, even as the weather improves,” said Sellheim.

While certain activities are acceptable and reap health benefits, such as bike rides, walks, and backyard play with those living within your home, other activities like driveway gatherings, barbeques and bonfires with neighbors, friends and extended family, have risks and should be avoided. The recommendation to remain six feet from those you do come in contact with also remains.

To protect those around you, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends the general public wear cloth face masks when obtaining essential services. The purpose of masking is to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect others around you in places where social distancing is more difficult, like grocery stores and pharmacies. Masks can be made in a variety of ways, including sew and no-sew methods. For tutorials and resources on cloth face masks, instructions on use and safe sterilization, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html. Due to the nationwide shortage, SEMC is not able to provide masks to the public.

Anyone who suspects they have COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider to discuss testing options. Symptoms of the coronavirus can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.

Efforts are underway to increase COVID-19 diagnostic testing, as well as antibody testing, at both state and federal levels. When testing capacity increases, SEMC will communicate those changes to the community as well as any new testing guidelines that may result.