Rural hospitals in Northwest Missouri are preparing to provide care for their communities as COVID-19 continues to spread.
Cameron Regional Medical Center has installed a walk-in fever and respiratory tent outside its emergency room. A news release from the hospital said the tent is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and strep testing, flu swabs, COVID-19 screenings and chest X-rays can be provided, depending on patient symptoms. The tent is not a drive-thru testing facility, but rather a drive-up.
Jon Doolittle, president of Mosaic Medical Center — Albany and this year’s president of the Missouri Hospital Association, said rural hospitals reflect the culture of the town, and while people in those communities usually feel safe, they should be educated and prepared for the virus.
“I think people may sometimes feel kind of a false sense of security or protection since we were social distancing before social distancing was cool,” Doolittle said. “What we know is, folks are very much at risk when you have a highly contagious disease.”
Doolittle said the hospital has the ability to perform COVID-19 testing but is short on supplies. He said negative-pressure rooms are available and staff members are in the process of converting more.
“We in Albany, like a lot of our peers, have had folks who would prefer to be tested who perhaps didn’t qualify for those tests,” Doolittle said. “We’ve had to send them home, ask them to self-quarantine, watch for symptoms. If they’re ill, we will take care of them.”
Doolittle said the hospital benefits from being part of Mosaic Life Care when it comes to being adequately stocked with protective supplies. He said that from his talks with others at rural hospitals, supplies vary but there is not a critical shortage.
Doolittle said he has been working at the hospital in Albany for 10 years and has always been proud to work there. He said that he has seen bravery by the caretakers who are at risk in order to help the community.
“I have watched our caregivers stand in line to be the person who is going to greet the the person under investigation, the person who was going to be tested for COVID, like stand in line to be the person who is going to gown-up and meet that person at the door and walk them to where we did the test,” Doolittle said. “Nobody’s running and hiding, everybody is doing exactly what they need to do to take care of our community.”