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Community needs to follow ‘shelter at home/in place’ order

My Opinion
Community needs to follow ‘shelter at home/in place’ order
Community needs to follow ‘shelter at home/in place’ order
Dr. Krishna Konijeti
Dr. Krishna Konijeti, Guest Writer

As the chief medical officer of Baptist Health Floyd, a practicing nephrologist in the community and as a resident of New Albany, I felt it necessary to update our local community about where we stand in this uncharted health care landscape. I will try to keep this as straightforward as possible.

The main impetus for this announcement is the concern that both Tom Harris, M.D., the Floyd County health officer, and I have about our community not having fully embraced the “Shelter at Home/In Place” order given by our governor and the Indiana State Dept. of Health. Based on our numbers, Floyd County has become somewhat of a “hot spot” for the virus. Part of this is because we have been able to test more than other counties around because of our access to the Indiana State Dept. of Health labs and our strategic partnership with U of L Research labs.

This update will hopefully put into perspective where we are as a local community in this global pandemic with COVID-19. This is important because I understand that people have been looking toward the ISDH website for updates on counts; however, the state website has been back-logged and not been able to be updated quickly.

As of Monday, March 30, when I am typing this update:

• We have ordered over 525 COVID-19 tests.

• Of those, we have received results on a little over 200. Out of the 200 resulted, we have had over 50 positive results, not including the many other PUI (Persons Under Investigation).

• We have over 350 pending tests.

• The health department has identified evidence of community transmission and “clusters.”

• We have seen every spectrum of clinical presentation of the disease, from mild disease that can be weathered through by home quarantine, moderate disease requiring hospitalization and severe disease that has resulted in respiratory failure and use of a mechanical ventilator.

• We have seen a wide variety of patients being infected: young/old, healthy/patients with existing medical conditions, etc.

• We have had providers, nurses and ancillary staff become positive in multiple health care facilities in our community.

We, as a dedicated team of providers, nurses and ancillary staff at Baptist Health Floyd, in conjunction with the Floyd County Health Dept., are working tirelessly to provide the best care possible to our community. As an institution, we have been one of the most proactive institutions and system in the area with regards to implementing the necessary protocols and changes to help protect our patients and staff. These include everything from implementing controlled access to the hospital, making a very difficult but strong no-visitation policy, canceling and limiting all non-emergent procedures and testing, working to secure and maintain PPE (personal protective equipment) for our staff and patients and developing the partnerships that allow us to try and get ahead of the “curve” with testing access.

While we try and “flatten the curve,” for which we don’t have a time line, many in the health care space now realize the need to try and control the “apex” (or peak of number of cases) because of the lack of knowing when that will hit and the steady and exponential rise in cases we are seeing here. In reality, we may not be able to “flatten the curve” until testing becomes more on demand, and that is still on the horizon.

It is of the utmost importance that the community we serve stays informed and educated and be kept up to date. I encourage everyone to keep monitoring the Floyd County Health Dept. website and the Indiana State Dept. of Health website for factual information about the pandemic we are facing.

So, in closing, my simple request is that the community we all love please take seriously the “Shelter at Home/In Place” order that has been issued. Unfortunately, this is not an extended spring break, and we shouldn’t be seeing as much traffic and activity around town as we have been. I would like for the community to take real action to limit travel and activities around the community to only essential needs. Even if you are healthy, your activities and actions can deeply affect other members of our community.

All of us at Baptist Health Floyd come to work daily to take care of our community needs with the highest level of quality and, in my biased view, we have the best team around. We are now requesting that everyone do their responsible share and support us as health care workers by following the guidelines given by our national, state and local governments. Starting today, all of our clinical staff, providers and ancillary staff will be masked to protect them and our patients.

Thank you for sharing this with your friends and family. Together as a community we will get past this.

Editor’s note: Dr. Krishna Konijeti is the chief medical officer at Baptist Health Floyd in New Albany.