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Health Care Happenings: COVID-19 planning update – we’re doing it ‘Together’

A question I hear often is: How is New Ulm Medical Center Allina Health planning for a potential surge or large increase in patients with COVID-19? As I reflect on the past several weeks and all our preparations, one word comes to mind: “together.”

Together, our physicians and advanced practice providers worked to create a “three deep” schedule for our ER and Inpatient units to take care of high patient volumes or replace sick physicians as needed over the next three months. Together, our nursing and union leaders have been working on staffing plans to accommodate a high growth in patient census and better support caregivers. Together, staff across many departments have been receiving education and training for new roles to support our patients. Together, we have worked with Sleepy Eye Medical Center to collaborate on plans for responding to a potential surge knowing we will be stronger by coordinating resources across the region.

Together, with our regional nursing homes we have developed a new model of care for providers to remotely care for residents and also coordinate plans to limit risks as patients leave a hospital and need skilled nursing care. Together, with Allina Health Home Care and Hospice we continue to support our patients in home and at end of life. Together, with our Allina Health EMS (Ambulance service), we are building plans to increase the capacity for transporting critical patients to our tertiary care centers like Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Together, leaders across Allina Health are expanding ICU and ventilator capacity by 100 percent for our system. Together, we worked with Springfield city leaders to leverage equipment from the closed hospital to expand our hospital capacity in the region. Together, our mental health team and partners are finding new ways to connect with and support our communities.

Together, our schools across the region have stepped up to ensure childcare is available for essential health care workers. Together, our businesses rallied to support several Red Cross blood drives to ensure blood supply is adequate during this crisis. Together, we are working with Brown County Public Health to emphasize key messages to help our communities stay safe and know what to do when health questions arise. Together, our local newspapers and radio stations have provided timely and robust updates to keep all informed and safe. Together, we will partner with clergy to support the spiritual needs of our patients and community in new ways.

Together, we are working with the City of New Ulm Police Department to keep our campus safe and secure. Together, our innovative business community and high school have risen to the challenge of providing personal protective equipment for health care staff in the region. Together, our business community has put safety first in redesigning how food, goods and services can be produced and delivered. Together, our army of volunteers and organizations donated over 10,000 masks and shared many wonderful acts of kindness across the community. Together, our communities are striving to support businesses in creative ways because they will be important to our future well-being. Together, our communities have demonstrated their care and concern for others by restricting close interactions and, unfortunately, not being “together.”

Whether we have a surge, surges, or just a swell in the months ahead I’m grateful for everyone coming together and doing their part to serve our communities. The strength of these partnerships will serve us well into the future with the COVID-19 cloud that will linger for many months, as well as building a healthy and strong region of communities for years to come.

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