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Mayo-Fairmont shifts way it works

FAIRMONT — Mayo Clinic Health System has implemented a no-visitor policy for patients, and temporarily suspended operation of four part-time clinics in response to the constantly changing conditions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Monday, business was suspended at regional clinics in Armstrong, Trimont, Truman and Sherburn to reallocate staffing resources as well as ensure the safety of patients and staff. Each of the clinics normally operated two days per week or less.

Also Monday, the Emergency Department at Fairmont Mayo instituted visitor restrictions. On Tuesday, outpatient visitor restrictions at the hospital went into effect, and Urgent Care hours were changed to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

Visitors for hospitalized patients have been restricted since March 20, but compassionate exceptions are being granted on a case-by-case basis for birth, end-of-life care and other specific circumstances.

The restrictions will remain in place until further notice.

These decisions were made through extensive collaboration with Mayo leadership and with the opinions of other health care partners in the area, according to Amy Long, administrator at Fairmont Mayo. While each health care site is unique, it is important for them to be consistent with policy during this time, she said.

As of Tuesday, the number of COVID-19 cases in Martin County stood at eight, which was unchanged from Monday but double the tally of four on Friday. Statewide, 262 people had tested positive for the virus by Tuesday, with 15 of those people hospitalized. So far, only one death in Minnesota has been attributed to the virus.

But those numbers likely will change as health officials predict the number of cases could double every three days, with the surge of patients causing strain on medical facilities and staff.

“Currently, we’re managing, even a surge plan, with the staff that we have,” said Dr. Marie Morris, medical director at Fairmont Mayo. “Because of some operations reducing, that’s giving us more capacity to shift staff where needed. For example, we’re doing fewer surgeries so we can utilize our surgical nursing staff in other areas.”

The local medical campus also has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment such as gowns, gloves and masks.

“We are conserving supplies, but we feel comfortable that we have a current supply level to support our needs,” Long said.

While the Fairmont medical community continues to prepare and adjust for the COVID virus, the public also needs to do its part by following good hygiene like frequent hand washing, social distancing and staying home if possible.

“We want to make sure the community is aware that we are not closed. We also want to make sure that the community knows how and when to seek care, given the fact that we have dramatically altered services,” Long said. “We really need people to call the clinic before they come in, for whatever reason. That helps determine if it’s something that can be delayed until this crisis is over.”

Sometimes, the issue can be resolved with a telephone discussion with one of the medical providers or through a video virtual chat. If symptoms cannot be managed at home and a visit to the clinic is necessary, calling first, (507) 238-8500, will provide an opportunity to let the patient know which clinic door to use. Urgent care patients also should call ahead.

“We are trying our best to keep healthy people in one area of our facility and people who are presenting with respiratory symptoms to come through a different entrance,” Long said. “Since that is not our typical operation, we need to provide that direction to our patients so it’s even more important that they call before they come.”

Morris said the medical staff is coping with the added level of stress caused by the virus outbreak.

“They are doing very, very well,” she said.

“It takes a team, and we have an amazing team of nurses, providers, our lab and radiology department, environmental services, facilities. Everyone truly is pitching in,” Long said.

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