Shawn Lerch, CEO: Greetings. I am Shawn Lerch, the Chief Executive Officer for Sauk Prairie Healthcare.
I am reaching out to each of you today to share what is occurring nationally, within our State, and region, and how the recent surge in COVID-19 cases is affecting Sauk Prairie Healthcare and our ability to serve your health and wellness needs.
Over the last four weeks of this pandemic, our country and state have experienced a dramatic rise in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, the number of patients being admitted to hospitals, and sadly a significant increase in the number of deaths. Which now stands at over 240,000 Americans who have lost their lives to this pandemic. Unfortunately, Wisconsin continues to remain as having one of the highest percentages of positive case counts and resulting hospitalizations in the nation.
This sharp increase has placed new demands on our healthcare systems throughout the State. The record breaking number of cases and new hospitalizations is having a detrimental effect on our healthcare organization along with our healthcare partners in the region.
Our ability to provide essential healthcare services in a timely manner is being tested as cases and hospitalizations continue rise.
I want to assure you though, Sauk Prairie Healthcare is dedicated to providing safe, high quality care locally to all communities. But when there is a need to transfer a patient to a higher level of care it can now take several hours because hospitals in our region are at capacity. A few patients have even been transferred as far as La Crosse and Milwaukee due to lack of bed availability in our primary region.
Sauk Prairie Healthcare is not alone in this, as we are hearing stories of how the increase in hospitalizations is delaying transfers throughout our region and state.
I will admit, the rise in positive COVID-19 cases and resulting hospitalizations can seem daunting and even overwhelming at times. Regrettably, there is a growing sense in our communities that we have tried everything and there is nothing more we can do.
I am here to tell you, we are not beat and there are many important and impactful things we can do right now to turn the tide, save lives, and reverse the unsustainable course we are on.
The required actions though, will take all our determined efforts in a unified manner.
I am asking each of you to recommit to supporting and following the proven and effective infection prevention strategies. Those are: masking, distancing greater than six feet, and frequent hand washing.
I believe, as a veteran and fellow American, we each have the duty and responsibility to stand together with a pledge to protect during this crisis.
This means we each have a personal responsibility to minimize our risk of transmitting the virus or becoming infected. This responsibility requires each of us to evaluate our choices and actions which can have serious health consequences on others.
Specifically, abstaining from high-risk activities identified by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will make an important impact on our ability to stop the spread.
Please avoid unnecessary travel, avoid large gatherings, and avoid times where you are in close and extended contact with individuals outside of your household.
I realize this may seem especially difficult over the upcoming holiday period when you want to gather with loved ones, including extended family and friends. But I urge you to start planning now to only celebrate with those in your household and identify alternative ways to celebrate that does not put those you love at risk.
Also, take the new onset of COVID-like symptoms seriously. These range from fever and shortness of breath, to loss of taste or fatigue.
I ask you to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, CDC.gov, for the most up to date symptom list. And, please, contact your healthcare provider with questions you may have.
Today, I am asking each of you to be a part of the solution as we need to step up our efforts to protect our families, protect our friends, protect our neighbors, and protect our communities. Your efforts to be safe will go a long way in keeping our healthcare system, our local businesses, our schools and our economy vibrant and strong going forward.
We can and will reverse the current course, but it will take each of us to make informed, yet difficult, choices. This is a time that is truly about WE NOT ME. I ask you to be smart, to be brave, to be part of the solution. Thank you.