How Sauk Valley Hospitals are Preparing for Coronavirus
As of this writing, the greater Sauk Valley area is still considered low-risk for the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). That’s good news, but it doesn’t mean we can let down our guard.
As the leaders of the two hospitals serving the majority of patients from these communities – KSB Hospital in Dixon and CGH Medical Center in Sterling – we are taking every step possible to ensure our facilities, our employees and our communities are ready if the virus does reach our area. And we’re working together to form a united front against the disease, because that’s what’s best for the patients and families depending on us to care for them.
The difficulty in preparing for a new and ever-changing disease like this is that nobody has ever seen it before. The most experienced infectious disease experts around the world – not to mention the outstanding ones we have here locally – are constantly learning just like all of us are, and their recommendations are only as good as the latest published information.
This pandemic is real and presents real challenges for the hospitals who may have to treat it, particularly in rural areas like ours. That said, in the ongoing discussions between our hospitals, we are sharing steps that are proving to be most effective, and we are intentionally taking those steps to ensure the safety of our patients and our employees.
Preparedness starts within our hospital walls. We have mobilized task forces to make sure every department knows exactly what its role is in preventing and potentially responding to a coronavirus case. We have made this a standing item during our morning “safety huddles,” we have been educating our employees about COVID-19 so they understand what they’re dealing with and how to keep themselves and our patients safe and what they should be prepared to treat. And, importantly, we have opened channels of communication for our care providers, so that every member of our medical staffs has the latest resources they need for patient care.
If COVID-19 reaches the Sauk Valley, the hospital you count on will be prepared.
But, if that day comes (and it’s probably safe to say “when” that day comes), an effective response will require community-wide cooperation. We are working closely with our local partners to share information and best practices. We’re talking regularly with our local health departments. We’re in constant communication with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to receive the latest findings and predictions for this disease, as well as getting regular updates from the CDC. And, we’re working with our patients and community members to help them better understand their hugely important role in minimizing the threat coronavirus poses.
Here’s how you can do your part:
- If you’re not feeling well, please stay home. If you think you may have been exposed to the virus, please call ahead before you show up at the emergency department. Our hospitals are working our local health departments to keep patients out of the hospital, which in some cases means at-home testing.
- When at all possible, avoid highly congregated areas and events. (And yes, that includes places like airports and cruise ships.)
- And, of course, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
These steps are particularly important if you’re around anyone who is 65 years old and older, and/or who suffers from chronic diseases affecting their lungs or heart.
We’re proud of the way our hospital employees and local partners have kicked into gear to work together and make sure everyone is prepared for COVID-19. We hope it makes you proud, too. And we hope you’ll join this effort by doing your part and making good decisions to limit the exposure you and your loved ones have to this deadly disease.