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Hospital Fighting a Rise in COVID-19 Cases

Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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The October Memorial Hospital Employee of the Month was announced at the Nov. 23 meeting of the Seminole Hospital Board. Amanda Moncayo currently serves with Unidine as the hospital Patient Service Supervisor and has been with the district since April 2005. (Photo by Marilou D. Horton)

Reporting on the COVID-19 status at Seminole Memorial Hospital during the board's monthly meeting on Nov. 23, CEO Larry Gray said it had been a hectic week at the hospital. "We also expect it to be busy after Thanksgiving; who knows what's going to come out of the woodwork. We'll have to see what happens next week."

It comes as no surprise that COVID cases are up, Gray told the board. "We are having a challenging time as we are transferring patients as far as Fort Worth, Colorado, and Arizona. We also sent a couple of patients to San Antonio. So, that process continues. And I want to just commend the entire staff in terms of having managed and worked with this since March. We had expected to be on the downside, but we are not there. Things (positive cases) are definitely increasing," Gray said.

He said the day to day stress is something that the nurses and doctors at Seminole Memorial have handled well. "Whoever you see around, just thank them. We try to do that, but it's never enough. They have been terrific."

Hospital Board President Chad McGehee said what we had once thought would be a sprint has now become a marathon. He, too, thanked the hospital nursing staff for their hard work and dedication at a very trying time.

The excellent news, Gray said, is that we are looking forward to getting a vaccine in December or January. "I think right now if you look at all the data, the country as a whole is right at 15% herd immunity. The scientists will tell you that we need to get somewhere around 70% herd immunity before we begin to get to a place where COVID starts to drop off."

He added we would only get there (70% herd immunity) if people take the vaccine. "As soon as we get it (the vaccine), we'll be lining up and zapping people as quickly as we can. I think we are excited about that development." Gray, jokingly, told the board and audience that when a vaccine comes out and is readily available, they can be second in line. "Right behind me."

"We will continue to manage this, "Gray continued. A concern would be a massive outbreak in the hospital, and at that time, they would have to close down different departments. "Thankfully, we haven't had to do that since March," the CEO added.

He continued: "We are going to be highly recommending everybody in the system to be wearing masks. However, you get into a lot of legal issues trying to get anyone to do anything. On the other hand, there are things we can do as a district. We can say, 'If you are going to be here, you must be in a mask, so you don't put others at risk.'"

I don't see any of this as good news or bad news; it's just the reality of being a healthcare worker. We'll step up and do what we have to do. We were all surprised when all of this hit in February and March. We figured it out now, and we'll figure it out as we go forward." He said that the hospital has surge plans if more patients come into the hospital with COVID and have nowhere to put them. "We have lots of planning and lots of thoughts of what we are going to do when we get there," said Gray.

In additional business, Amanda Moncayo was named the Memorial Hospital Employee of the Month for October. When presenting Amanda with her award, hospital board president Chad McGehee read the following: "Consistently applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, and integrity, makes her an excellent example of what it means to be part of Seminole Hospital District. We thank her for her hard work and dedication."

Monday evening, the board also approved the Oct. 19 minutes and the credentialing of Michael Corpus, MD, emergency medicine, and Leila Myrick, MD, in family medicine. The board also granted new Health Plan Design and Funding, which provides better health coverage for employees. The unique benefits will provide 100% coverage from Memorial Hospital providers.

“We are having a challenging time as we are transfering patients as far as Fort Worth, Colorado, and Arizona. We also sent a couple of patients to San Antonio.”

- SHD CEO, Larry Gray