SIOUX CENTER — Sioux Center Health continues to urge residents to follow preventive measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and to ease the pressure on the local and area hospitals.
As of Monday, five of Sioux Center Health’s hospital patients were COVID-19 cases. The hospital has a total of 19 beds — eight of which had COVID-19 patients a week ago.
Sioux Center Health has completed 2,034 PCR nasal swab tests since March, 476 of which were positive for a 23.4 percent positivity rate since the pandemic hit the area in March. However, its positivity rate the past seven days has been at 36.5 percent with 27 of the 74 tests coming back positive.
“We want to encourage those who are 65 and older or family members who are around others of that age to make sure they’re taking the extra precautions because that’s what we’re seeing in hospital and clinic,” said Sioux Center Health CEO Cory Nelson. “Just about everybody who’s in the hospital is on supplemental oxygen. They have a real respiratory challenge.”
The hospital is utilizing high-flow oxygen methods like a bipap machine to push oxygen at a higher level than it normally would. Throughout the past three weeks hospital staff have also used convalescent plasma, an antiviral medicine called remdesivir and dexamethasone as treatment interventions for patients available outside of ventilators at Sioux Center Health. Some patients have also been transferred to other hospitals.
Sioux County’s positivity rate or 14-day average was 25.1 percent as of Monday. The county also has a total of eight deaths due to COVID-19.
“It’s good news that Sioux County’s rate is coming down. If we keep taking the responsible approach, I think we’ll get through this,” Nelson said.
All Sioux Center residents and visitors are asked to be part of slowing the spread of coronavirus through other measures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Wear facial coverings/masks when around people who are not household members.
- Maintain 6 or more feet of distance from others in all indoor facilities.
- Continue to practice hand hygiene and sanitize surfaces.
To aid in limiting the spread of the coronavirus and maintain a clean, safe environment within its facilities, Sioux Center Health has added additional sanitizing equipment in the hospital and nursing home, such as ultraviolet light through the use of UVC robots to help kill the virus and electrostatic spray, which is electrically charged, allowing the appropriate sanitizers, mold preventatives and disinfectants to wrap around and evenly coat all types of surfaces for a more complete clean.
Lisa Froke, Sioux Center Health housekeeping manager, received training on the UVC robots late last week. She will begin training housekeeping team on proper use and safety features this week.
The electrostatic sprayer/mist has been in use in various departments for about a month and a half.
Numbers are down all around as the respiratory clinic had 381 calls within the last week, down from 419 the previous week and 588 two weeks ago.
Sioux Center Health completed 253 tests as of Monday through its Test Iowa site that opened Tuesday, Sept. 29. Hours for the site are 1-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. A total of 64 tests have been positive.
Nelson said 75 percent of those coming through the Sioux Center Health Test Iowa site, which have been people of all ages, are Sioux County residents, 9 percent are from Plymouth County and the remaining are from O’Brien, Woodbury, Lyon and Osceola counties.
Due to required testing of nursing home facilities in the past month, Nelson said the hospital has completed 560 tests on staff at Royal Meadows Care Center in Sioux Center and 368 tests on residents. Only two residents and nine staff have tested positive. That’s a less than 1 percent positive rate for residents and staff.
The hospital has also tested its staff and residents of its other assisted living facilities, finding just four residents and three staff test positive.
“As we look at the attributions of where they contracted COVID, we know those are not happening inside the facility, they are community acquired — if a resident goes out and visits a family member or a staff member happens to be around someone or family member who brings it into the home,” Nelson said. “That’s good but also challenging and why we continue to ask people to take those precautions to continue to see a decline of cases. And we especially want to continue to protect our health care workers and seniors.”
Avoiding large crowds, especially indoors, is another encouragement as the weather gets colder.
“When you look at the research through universities or the CDC, that’s where the highest risk of contracting the illness is,” Nelson said. “As we move into cooler weather and indoor sports, we need to make sure people continue to follow precautions.”
He also encourages everyone to get a flu shot.
Sioux Center Health is hosting drive-thru events in a temporary building in the north parking lot at 1101 Ninth St. SE. Times and dates are: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17; and 2:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21. Visit siouxcenterhealth.org/services/clinics/flu-vaccines-forms/ for more information or to download a consent form to fill out ahead for faster service. Also bring a copy of insurance card.
“The one thing we don’t want to have happen is for people to get influenza and have their systems knocked down by that and then get COVID on top of it,” Nelson said. “Those conditions can create some dangerous situations for individuals. Getting the flu shot is one of the best things we can do to help mitigate that possibility.”