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What Ottumwa Regional Health Center has done to fight COVID-19 and protect its staff and patients

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 6:38 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - Cheryl VanWeelden is an infection preventionist and RN at Ottumwa Regional Health Center. She says when Covid began, it seemed slow, like waiting for a storm.

She says Ottumwa Regional Health Center’s Incident Command Team that includes hospital administration and emergency management gathered to make a plan. A plan to protect the staff and patients. Then the storm hit.

“But when that wave hit and our numbers increased, we had to look at staffing tighter and how we could place the patients,” says VanWeelden

Temperature checkers were installed at guest and employee entrances, while Covid patients were separated from regular intensive care unit patients.

When it comes to being clean and making sure germs would not spread, VanWeelden says the staff also had to be trained with personal protective equipment and cleaning. “They had to do training with housekeeping because nurses became the housekeepers for the patients with Covid.”

Constant communication became and still is crucial for the hospital staff. All departments are involved on a daily safety call. “It was at that time we could share information, and a lot of information at that time was focused on Covid.”

The safety precautions are still being implemented today. VanWeelden says given the last year, the Ottumwa Regional team came together to face any challenge and still do. “Will pull together as a team, will stay strong together as a team.”

Now the staff looks to the future together and lifts each other up as they move forward, says VanWeelden.

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