WILMINGTON — In a virtual town hall Friday concerning COVID-19, senior leadership staff with Clinton Memorial Hospital told what they as local health care workers are seeing and made clearer the virus’ dangers, while also prescribing what residents can do to help matters.
Dr. Brian Boster, the medical director of the CMH Hospitalist Program which takes care of in-patients including those in CMH’s separate COVID unit, said Clinton County has not been spared, and he and his colleagues are seeing more COVID cases than ever at CMH.
Hospitals, including CMH, are feeling the pressures of providing care for a large number of COVID patients in addition to the regular flow of patients.
“There have been many days during the latest surge in cases where we have had to call in extra staff just to care for everyone,” related Boster.
It is key to realize, the hospitalist said, that presently two-thirds of COVID cases are transmitted by “asymptomatic carriers” — people who have the coronavirus but who feel normal.
Boster gave a local example of someone who was hospitalized under his care after attending a small birthday gathering where everyone felt well.
CMH Chief Nursing Officer Lesley Wininger reported about a dozen staff members have tested positive this month.
She stated, “This illness does take its toll on the body. Some [hospital] patients stay for extended periods of time, and others don’t recover.”
Further, sometimes the increased lengths of hospital stays cause a delay with other admissions, said Wininger.
“I will end with an ask of each of you. Please wear a mask. Help protect yourselves and others from this terrible illness. Our employees and community are counting on you,” she said.
CMH Director of Emergency Services Matt Gunderman said that since late October they’ve been seeing a remarkable upward trend.
A week ago, he noted on Friday, Clinton County totaled 23 COVID deaths. When he spoke at the town hall, that figure had gone up to 35-plus deaths, he said.
In this region of Ohio, almost 15 percent of people tested are positive at the moment they are tested, remarked Gunderman.
To illustrate, he asked the audience to imagine going into one of the larger stores that could easily have 100 people inside.
“Now imagine 15 of them are COVID positive. This is the reality right now,” Gunderman said.
In the face of the COVID upsurge, “Inaction [not taking preventive actions] will not improve anything,” he said.
Dr. Brian J. Santin, who is the CMH chief medical officer and a vascular surgeon, said people have asked what they can do to help CMH.
“We need your assistance, influence, and voice to help in mitigating the spread in our community,” said Santin, who then gave an example.
Say somebody’s mask doesn’t cover both the nose and the mouth, which can happen inadvertently after a sip of coffee or the mask just sliding down.
“We can help protect each other and ourselves with a soft reminder. ‘Hey Mary, your mask is down.’ A simple nudge is all it takes,” he commented.
Santin said he definitely will get vaccinated, and he charged everyone listening to also receive the vaccine when it’s made available to them.
If 70 percent of Ohioans are vaccinated, then we can expect a return to sports venues, concert halls, Murphy Theatre events, and busy restaurants, said the doctor.
“Please do your part, and help fight against COVID and get vaccinated,” he added.
He also spoke about “the reality of survivor’s guilt” which strikes people who have transmitted the virus to another person who subsequently dies.
Santin noted, “Through contact tracing, it can often be established how and who transmitted COVID infections to others, loved ones and strangers alike.”
Dr. Santin, like Dr. Boster, said we need to realize many people have the virus and thus are carriers of the illness even though they feel normal.
He asked the audience for this year to “Stay home for the holidays.”
CMH Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lance Beus said, “Now more than ever, it’s important for us to come together as a community and support and care for one another.”
Santin encouraged residents with questions to email [email protected] .
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.