COVID-19 Q&A Recap with Melham Medical Center

BROKEN BOW–KCNI/KBBN hosted its second COVID-19 Q&A on Tuesday, March 31 and welcomed questions related to the coronavirus pandemic from the public. An on-air broadcast and Facebook Live video were conducted with Jennie M. Melham Memorial Medical Center (JMMMMC) President/CEO Veronica Schmidt and Doctor David Minnick of Central Nebraska Medical Clinic (CNMC).

Click here to view the Facebook Live video from Tuesday morning.

Veronica Schmidt has been in Broken Bow since January 2018 and said this is her first experience with a global pandemic in her 27-year career. Schmidt and Dr. Minnick, who has been serving Broken Bow since 1995, went on to emphasize the importance of washing your hands, using hand sanitizer frequently, and avoiding touching your face.

Schmidt said the best course of action at this time is prevention of the virus.

“That’s why that prevention piece as a community coming together and being vigilant about the social distancing and calling before arriving to the facilities is extremely important, that that be taken seriously because again, you may not know that you have it but you may be passing it on and that next person may be that severe case that we need to be able to manage here locally and so for us it’s about—in rural health care—we have a limited number of resources and so we want to protect those resources as much as possible so they’re here when those people that need it the most have it available to them,” Schmidt said.

Dr. Minnick reiterated the importance of flattening the curve and said the measures that have been implanted in the last few weeks are appropriate in dealing with this new virus.

“I think they’re acting appropriately to do everything they can to avoid being in situations where they’re picking it up. One of the biggest things is it’s novel meaning none of our bodies have seen this before and that’s how our immunity reacts is by having seen something similar and we haven’t seen something similar to this and that’s the seriousness of it and why our population at risk have really struggled with fighting it off,” Dr. Minnick said.

Plant Manager Dave Berge of BD Broken Bow was also available for an interview with KCNI/KBBN where he said the company is working to “plan for the worst and hope for the best” amid growing changes related to the coronavirus.

As a plant that manufactures collection products such as blood tubes and urine cups, Berge said BD is relatively “business as usual” in order to continue serving the health care market. Berge said the plant’s main concern is keeping employees healthy and safe and the plant has implemented temperature screening, extra cleaning, social distancing, travel restrictions and quarantine, and having some employees work from home.

He said he appreciates all of the associates that make it possible for BD to operate on a daily basis.

“It’s very important for us to keep that same quality and level of care regardless of whether we’re facing a pandemic of not. It’s been very exciting for me to see the associates here in Broken Bow gather around that same global goal of advancing the world of health and making sure we’re putting out the highest quality product as safely as possible for all of our customers,” Berge said.

Below are some of the highlights discussed. This is a summary and are not direct quotes:

• Call your primary care provider or the hospital if you have questions or feel you are developing symptoms
o JMMMMC: 308-872-4100
o CNMC: 308-872-2486

• The coronavirus will continue to mutate, it is likely to be less severe if you contract it again, body will grow immunity
• JMMMMC is doing well in terms of Personal Protective Equipment at this time and continue to keep staff safe through pre-screening measures, respiratory triage areas, and not having elective procedures or specialty clinic visits at this time
• Limited number of ventilators are available locally
• N-95 masks are designed to seal around the mouth and keep particles from getting in whereas surgical face masks (typically with elastic covering the ears) are designed to keep virus particles from getting out
• Coronavirus symptoms continue to include fever, cough, shortness of breath, among others

• It’s hopeful that warmer temperatures will curb the spread of the virus but COVID-19 is primarily spread in droplet form in the air and those particles then settle onto surfaces—therefore it is recommended to avoid close contact with people and clean surfaces frequently
• No cure or treatment at this time, malaria medication is helpful but not a miracle drug, according to Dr. Minnick
• Symptomatic treatment such as fever reducers and oxygen are being implemented
• Clinical trials take time and a vaccine could still be a year away

• Feelings of lack of control can lead to fear and anxiety and Veronica Schmidt recommends doing research on reputable sources such as the CDC or local public health departments. During this time of social distancing it is also recommended to enjoy time with family, find new hobbies and interests, be creative, and contact mental health care providers either through private practice or non-profit

• Dr. Minnick said going outside is safe to walk or exercise but maintain social distance of at least 6 feet
• New COVID-19 tests are being developed, similar to an influenza nasal swab
• Young kids seem to be less likely to get sick from the coronavirus because of their innate immune systems
• Could expect a surge in coronavirus cases in the next two weeks
• Veronica Schmidt said 80% of cases can be managed at home but it’s important to take preventative measures and take social distancing seriously in order to protect rural health resources for people who really need them

• The coronavirus spreads more quickly than other widespread diseases and none of our bodies have seen this before, that’s why it is so serious according to Dr. Minnick
• It’s not hard to kill the virus on surfaces—wipe them down with disinfectants frequently
• 14-day time frame is recommended if you’ve been sick and includes a 7-day period since last symptom or 72 hours after last fever
• Best course of action is prevention, be vigilant, flatten the curve to slow down the virus

• Social distancing: Deliberately increasing the space between people in order to not spread virus
• Isolation: Tucking yourself away and not being exposed
• Quarantine: You have risks for having the virus or you have the virus and you’re preventing the spread of it to other people