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Area officials spotlight virus efforts

FAIRMONT — Public officials and area health care providers have collaborated to create and release a local public service announcement about COVID-19.

Those involved include Amy Long, administrator, and Dr. Marie Morris, medical director, both of Mayo-Fairmont; CEO Rick Ash and chief of staff Dr. Aaron Johnson, both of United Hospital District in Blue Earth; Dr. Steven Parnell of Dulcimer Medical Clinic in Fairmont; Health and Human Services of Faribault and Martin County executive director Chera Sevcik; and Martin County Commissioner Kathy Smith.

Martin County currently has 38 positive cases of COVID-19.

In the video, Sevcik notes that public health is working with several entities to respond to COVID-19, saying that communities should place an emphasis on how to mitigate the spread rather than focus on the initial source.

“Our staff are working hard at analyzing countywide data so that we can better understand how COVID-19 is impacting our communities,” she said. “What we’ve learned so far is that 66 percent of our cases are considered community transmission. This means that we cannot pinpoint or identify a specific source that caused individuals to become ill.

“This means that COVID-19 is circulating in all of our communities. It’s understandable that many people want to know how the disease started in our area, who brought it here. This is something that we may never learn. It’s more important to move beyond how it got here and to focus on how we, as a community, can prevent others from becoming ill.”

Commissioner Kathy Smith emphasized the importance of everyone doing their part, and thanked the public for doing so.

“We have been working hard over these last few weeks to be sure we are prepared to respond to COVID-19,” Long said. “This has meant changing the way we do business, changing the way we provide services and our daily operations. All of this has been done in an effort to keep our patients, staff and community members safe.”

Morris said Mayo-Fairmont is well prepared.

“Our staff are trained and have proper personal protective equipment to care for patients with serious infections, including COVID-19,” she said. “We have established separate entrances and waiting areas for those with symptoms and for those who are well with other health care needs. We have launched virtual care options including video and telephone visits, and we also have online options including express care online and the ability to message your health care team.”

Parnell offered some simple tips to help people implement changes in day-to-day living, such as wearing a mask to retrain yourself not to touch your face, singing songs while hand washing in order to keep at it for the recommended 20 seconds.

“We’ve got patients checking in by phone if they’re sick,” he noted. “Then we meet them at the door with a mask and escort them to designated rooms that get cleaned every time someone goes in an out. Our staff is knowledgeable, and we’re going to get through this.”

Ash noted that everyone at UHD is doing their part to make sure they’re ready for patients.

“I’m proud to work with many dedicated health care staff who are working in unusually difficult times to ensure that the care for their patients and co-workers continues,” he said.

Johnson said health care providers are grateful for those who are practicing social distancing, and noted that even though well visits and elective surgeries have temporarily ceased, emergencies still happen and UHD is still there for patients who need that kind of help.

“We’re very grateful for those on the front lines, the ambulance and emergency staff that are going out of their way,” he said. “We’re thankful for you as the public to continue to try and mitigate the effects of this by social distancing and trying to stay away from each other as much as possible.”

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