SEMC prepared for COVID-19 response, but needs the public to act responsibly

Kevin Sellheim Administrator Sleepy Eye Medical Center

At Sleepy Eye Medical Center we are watching with growing concern as COVID-19 cases quickly increase, not only in Minnesota but at a higher rate in Brown County. This is placing an increasing demand on hospital beds across the state. 

Sleepy Eye Medical Center

In the past, we transferred our COVID-19 positive patients to metro facilities who were better prepared to care for them. That is no longer the case as those beds do not exist except for patients with advanced conditions. 

Now we are keeping those patients in house. We have readied patient rooms with the proper ventilation and have staffing strategies in place to minimize exposure to staff and the other patients we are caring for in the hospital. 

We are also working to secure sufficient doses of Remdesivir to provide the most recent therapies to our COVID-19 positive inpatients. We are also going to be receiving a new outpatient therapy, Monoclonal Antibodies, to provide to patients on an outpatient basis to help prevent progression of the disease.

We are in constant contact with New Ulm Medical Center (daily) to share information regarding current capacity for patients. Either facility is available to receive transfers from the other so we can hopefully keep Brown County patients closer to home. We have always had a strong relationship with New Ulm Medical Center and the benefits of that relationship really come through during difficult times.

In November we have seen our rate of virtual visits and COVID-19 testing double from October. Our positivity rate has also been increasing each month, exceeding 20% in November.

Staffing in the hospital is increasingly challenging as the virus runs amok in our surrounding area. Add to this daycare closures and the potential for long-term at-home learning for all students, and you can see how our staffing can be impacted every day.

At SEMC, we have been planning for this since March and have worked diligently to ensure we are prepared for a significant surge in patient volumes. We stress to our staff the importance to follow public safety protocols when not at work to ensure we can meet the needs of our patients. Our goal always has been and will be to provide the safest environment possible for our patients, as well as our staff, and we will not deviate from this.

We are urging everyone in Brown County and the surrounding areas to follow all the public safety protocols—wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance, and do not gather with people outside of your household. 

The desire to have large gatherings for Thanksgiving will more than likely result in a worsening of the situation. We all must take it upon ourselves to act responsibly. The health and safety of our families and loved ones should be our priority.

I would also like to recognize our employees who are now putting themselves at risk every day they come to work. They do this without hesitation as they too want to provide the best care possible to those we care for. If you see them please thank them for their undying dedication. I know they make me proud as well as humble every day.