Iron Co. Medical Center sees COVID-19 positivity rate of 30%

Rural hospitals struggle with COVID-19, flu season

PILOT KNOB, Mo. (KFVS) - The Iron County Medical Center has seen an increase in both flu-like illnesses and COVID-19.

Last week, the hospital saw positivity rates of 30 percent from their COVID-19 rapid tests, according to Iron County Medical Center CEO Joshua E. Gilmore, MBA.

Gilmore said the hospital is not to capacity with patients at this moment, but does see some challenges getting patients with a higher need of care to other facilities, including St. Louis and Cape Girardeau due to bed availability whether it be COVID-19 cases or other.

Gilmore said they make adjustments daily based on the care and need of their patients, as well as, procuring the needed supplies for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.

He also mentioned staff morale is waning as they continue to ask more of their team members with more patients coming in with any health concerns and treatments. This includes staff that have to quarantine themselves at home due to their own health concern needs with their own families.

“As a small rural Critical Access Hospital it is extremely hard on my staff when even one or two are out for an extended period of time, as our normal daily staffing baseline is bare minimum, the gap it creates is not easily absorbed,” Gilmore stated.

Gilmore also mentioned with a staff member being at home, they find the difficult task of cross-training and cross-covering when human resources are limited.

“Unlike our traditional illnesses where a staff member is may be out ill for two or three days at a time, this tends to take them out of commission for a week to ten days which places a huge burden on your remaining staff who are trying to pick up the additional shifts that have been left vacant,” Gilmore said. “Once this begins to multiply across the organization, it’s effects are exponential, creating massive staffing gaps to fill at a time when all hands on deck are required to address the surge in influenza-like illness patients.”

Gilmore said to help slow down the spreading of the viruses, you can wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol; avoid close contact with others; and wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose when you are within 6 feet of others.

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