Avera, Sanford preparing for COVID-19 surge


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Local hospitals aren’t planning for when, not if, there’s a surge of COVID-19 cases. An Official with Sanford Health says the Sioux Falls area could see the beginning of the surge in the next two to four weeks. Both Sanford and Avera are giving us a closer look at what they’re doing to get ready.

Dr. Mike Wilde, VP Medical Officer for Sanford Health, hopes months of preparation will help the health care system in the coming weeks.

“We at Sanford have always been planning on a surge,” Wilde said.

Wilde says Sanford is doing online appointments with patients and has stopped all non-urgent surgeries. The goal is to preserve masks, gloves, goggles, and other personal protective equipment for doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals in many communities.

“We’re unified against a common enemy. So, you may be sitting in a small town, saying this isn’t going to hit us and this really doesn’t apply, although there’s tremendous engagement. The reality is, if each community has a couple of patients, it can rapidly turn into a significant vulnerability,” Wilde said.

Avera Health is restricting visitors and has also stopped elective surgeries. In addition to seeing patients via virtual appointments, it’s adding more rooms to its main campus.

“We are screening all of our employees every day when they enter our facilities to make sure they don’t have signs or symptoms,” Dr. Mike Elliott, Chief Medical Officer, said.

Elliott says Avera is also trying to stock up on things like gloves and masks, but says you can help with that.

“We are accepting donations of cloth masks, 3D printed masks, you name it. Our collection center is at our Avera Human Performance Center,” Elliott said.

Both hospitals are working together with state and local leaders to prepare for what’s to come.

“Even though the social distancing, in many ways, we have come closer together,” Elliott said.

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