Local Preparations for COVID
Miller Report for the week of April 6, 2020; by William Miller, MD.
Efforts to slow the spread appear to be working here in Northern California and especially for us here on the Coast. Initial projections were that we would start seeing a surge of COVID patients in mid-April peaking in a potentially overwhelming volume by mid-May. However, this has notably changed thanks to everyone’s efforts to shelter-in-place, social distance and washing hands. Based on an epidemiologic model developed by Stanford University, we are now expecting a more modest rise to begin in June with a manageable peak sometime during the summer. If this behaves like other corona viruses, then the summer months should also see a reduction in transmission, with a picking back up in the fall. At our hospital, we have adopted a multi-phased plan which will allow us to bring into play resources at different times as the volume dictates. We continue to work closely with County and State officials as well as our sister hospitals in Ukiah and Willits.
Initially, following the direction of the CDC and State Health Department, we canceled all elective surgeries. This was primarily to conserve personal protective equipment such as gowns and masks. Now that we are expecting a longer time to when we may experience a peak in COVID cases locally, we are scheduling surgeries that while not an emergency are none-the-less essential or cannot be safely delayed for months on end. If you have a surgical problem that has been postponed due to the COVID crisis, we recommend that you check with your primary care provider and surgeon to determine if your procedure can be further delayed or needs to be done sooner.
We continue to desire to offer testing more broadly to the general public, however, our supply of test sampling kits remains limited with no increase expected in the foreseeable future. Rest assured that we have enough kits to use for testing on sick patients, health care workers and if necessary at local long term care facilities. However, at this time, we are not able to expand testing to people who have only mild symptoms.
We have now completed majority of preparations that we can do at this time. Much of our focus now will be on continuing to procure needed supplies / equipment and to rehearse our practices.
Mendocino County Public health team to hopefully implement surveillance testing for COVID-19 here on the Coast for the homeless population. This could identify positive test results within this group from asymptomatic individuals in order to identify and mitigate the risk early.
Although a rudimentary issue, when the City closed all of its public restrooms, we knew we needed to provide our homeless population with access to toilets and hand washing. Rented portable toilets (ADA compliant with hand washing station) are in place in the City Hall parking lot up against the north side and at Town Hall.
A heartfelt thanks all those working with our local homeless population.