Miller Report for the Week of July 13th, 2020
By William Miller, MD – Chief of Staff at Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast Hospital
Last week, our local nursing facility, Sherwood Oaks, learned that one of their staff was positive for COVID. This person, who got the infection outside of work, was exposed through no fault of her own. Specifically, this was not an exposure due to irresponsible behavior. She was not symptomatic when she started work, but did become so during her shift and was immediately sent home. When she subsequently tested positive, Sherwood Oaks appropriately notified both the County and State Health Departments. All staff and residents of the facility were then tested with three residents and one additional staff member testing positive. This week, two more residents have tested positive, bringing the total number up to five residents.
“Following our previously developed plans on how to deal with an outbreak like this if it happened, we have sectioned off one part of our facility as an isolation area,” said Dr. John Cottle, medical director of Sherwood Oaks. “We have moved all of the positive residents into that area. We also have notified the families of all of our residents. With the help of the health department, we are again testing all our staff and residents. We will keep repeating testing on a regular basis until advised by the health department to do otherwise. We expect to know the results by the end of this week.”
Our hospital, Adventist Health – Mendocino Coast, is prepared to accept any residents from Sherwood Oaks who become ill and need acute hospital care. We are also expecting that we may see other local cases from other sources as cases begin to rise in Northern California. As part of the surge plan we developed when COVID first began, we converted a section of the hospital into a COVID ward. Early on, we were concerned that we might have to take care of the most critically ill patients here if other area hospitals became overwhelmed. Fortunately, while cases are rising, we do not expect the overwhelming wave previously predicted prior to shelter-in-place. Thus, we now expect to be able to transfer any seriously ill patients who may need critical care.
Today, Governor Newsom announced a statewide order to reclose all restaurants, bars, wineries and many other social venues throughout California. While studies show that at least 2/3’s of people are wearing masks and taking steps to minimize risks, there still is a large percentage of the population who are not. Freedom does come with responsibility. I hope that those people who are not taking mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing seriously, will think of how such actions not only help protect them, but also their loved ones and the rest of us in the community. It is true that a young person who gets COVID may not get very ill. Yet, in the meantime, might spread it to a beloved older family member who could die. These choices not only effect ourselves, but all of those around you.