As Kentucky experiences an exponential growth of COVID-19 cases, many hospitals and health workers are bracing for an expected increase in cases tied to travel and Thanksgiving gatherings.
As of Tuesday morning, Baptist Health Hardin had 51 positive COVID-19 cases and 19 rule-out cases in the hospital. Rule out means people had symptoms that could be COVID, however, lab reports were not back to confirm.
Chief Nursing Officer Sharon Wright said the hospital has had surge plans in place since January but hasn’t needed to implement them as yet.
“I am hopeful that our community will respond appropriately and not increase the spread of COVID-19, but I am realistic that this time next week, we could be in a very difficult place when it comes to COVID-related numbers and hospitalizations,” she said.
Wright, who also is BHH’s vice president of patient care services, said staff is monitoring supplies of PPE and have adequate levels of equipment. The hospital also has units dedicated to care for COVID patients, which are designed to expand and contract based on the need. Additionally, the hospital’s strict visitor policy adheres to national guidelines.
“Perhaps most significantly, we know more about COVID than in the early months, and thus, we’re more experienced, more skilled at treating it, and have more tools at our disposal,” Wright said.
Earlier this year, BHH erected a surge tent and have the ability to do so again should the need arise. Furthermore, Wright said several patient care rooms can be used should patient cases increase.
As of Tuesday afternoon’s report from the Lincoln Trail District Health Department, 12 of the people hospitalized due to COVID-19 were from Hardin County.
In all, Hardin County has had 3,766 confirmed cases of the virus since mid-March.
As for the hospital staff, Wright said it is a trying time for everyone in health care and no one is immune.
“At the hospital, our health care professionals are in the throes of this pandemic and leadership is devoting time and resources to support staff,” she said. Wright noted this investment includes the development of recharge rooms, offering significant cafeteria discounts and providing free food to staff unable to leave the care area.
She said leaders have canceled most meetings to assist staff and keep the focus on patients.
Wright also touted the community, stating it has been wonderful in terms of donating to the HMH Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund for meals, encouragement and support for the staff.
Wright said they also are working to ensure staff have respite time and support such as inspirational messages from the community, team leaders and pastoral care.
Wright said the community is encouraged to help by donating to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund at ourhmh.org/online-donations.
“Staff are also encouraged when they receive a card or letter from a patient or family member,” Wright said. “And as always, our community’s prayers are welcomed for our patients, providers and staff.”
Wright said they need the community to partner with them in the effort to stave off the increasing number of COVID cases.
“It’s discouraging when you are caring for people who are very sick with the virus, and see people not doing what they can to stop the spread of this virus — such as social distancing and wearing a mask,” she said.