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Lakewood town hall: Community question and answer

Lakewood Health System File.jpg
Lakewood Health System in Staples, Minnesota. (Wadena Pioneer Journal File Photo)

During the Lakewood virtual town hall on Nov. 5, Lakewood Health System family medicine provider and chief medical officer Dr. Christine Albrecht, vice president of nursing Corrine Neisess, Todd County Health and Human Services Director Jackie Och, Wadena County Public Health director Cindy Pederson, Staples-Motley School District Superintendent Shane Tappe and Central Lakes College Dean of Staples campuses, nursing and grants David Endicott answered the following questions from attendees.

RELATED: Increased community spread causes staffing concerns at hospitals, schools

Q: Is there a possible prediction as to when Staples-Motley may enter distance learning? If schools in the area are above the 50 per 10,000 mark (distance learning for all), why have they not all gone to distance learning yet?

There is not a set answer about transitioning to distance learning though Tappe said “we are closer now than we were a while back.” The district is also focused on how students may learn best and the impact of distance learning on students, staff, parents and guardians.

Pederson noted that the 14-day case rate was largely for how schools would start the school year and the schools use many pieces of information to make decisions.


Q: What does the next month look like for case growth and at what point does it stop going up?

While there are a lot of unknowns, community spread is high with activities indoors rather than outdoors due to factors such as ventilation and space limitations indoors.

The case growth will continue through the winter months similar to the flu season with a possible slow down in the spring, as Och, Pederson and Albrecht said.

Q: When there was a surge in other areas, hospitals ran into a shortage of ventilators. Does Lakewood have a plan if it reaches that point?

Lakewood has been able to acquire ventilators, with at least five available as Albrecht said in the April 30 town hall. Patients at Lakewood have not been on ventilators though a few have been transferred that later went on ventilators.

As health leaders have learned more about the illness, patients are being treated with techniques such as laying patients flat on their stomach and having high flow oxygen as well as available treatments, as Albrecht said.

Q: Aren't most kids asymptomatic? Shouldn't we assume there are more cases in school?

Children may have a less severe case of COVID-19 or symptoms that are more like a cold but many people of all ages can be asymptomatic. People have their highest viral load spread the day before you are symptomatic, according to Albrecht.

There likely are more cases in schools, the community and worldwide since people may not get tested, have access to a test or not test positive.

Q: Why is data for testing important?

The data allows decisions to be better informed since it shows what is happening in communities, which can impact places such as schools, businesses and long-term care facilities.

“The data’s never going to be perfect,” Albrecht said. “The only way we’re going to learn about COVID is by data and by science.”


Q: What are the main reasons that we are seeing so much spread right now? And do you feel like people are taking this serious enough when they are outside of work, like wearing masks and not getting together in groups?

“It’s about perception … again that’s why we really talk about social distancing and masking those preventative measures go a long way,” Och said. “We try to advocate and educate as much as we can around prevention, and prevention is hard to measure … but it’s very important.”

Pederson also encourages people to be careful in even the small group settings like meeting with family or friends outside of your household.

Q: With regional hospitals filling up, such as Fargo, St. Cloud and the Twin Cities, are we getting to a critical tipping point for hospital care, if needed?

The hospitals “gets tighter each day,” and hospitals across the state communicate about the number of beds available as well as offering care to patients wherever they are, as Neisess and Albrecht said.

Albrecht encourages community members to come in for care on any concern and “it’s better to come in too early than too late.”

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in feature reporting as well as enhancing online articles. Readers can reach Rebecca at 507-285-7681 or rmitchell@postbulletin.com.
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