Coronavirus Update: April 7, 2020

On April 2nd, Hancock County had 41 confirmed cases of COVID 19.  As of yesterday, April 6th, there were 89 cases.  Yes, you read this right – the number of cases in the county more than doubled in just four days.  You may find this rapid increase to be troubling, and if so, you would not be alone.  Indeed, if you were to graph the case trends in our county, you would find they resemble the “exponential curve” we have been so worried about.  But, when one takes a look at the trends in the rest of central Indiana, you quickly identify that their growth, while rapid, has not been exponential, so this would seem to make Hancock County an outlier.  If you dig just a bit deeper, you find that this sudden, rapid growth in our county is primarily an artifact in the data associated with testing labs catching up on their backlog.  For example, there were 17 new cases reported for Hancock County on Saturday morning, but these 17 were associated with tests completed on seven different days over the span of almost two weeks that all just happened to be reported on the same day.  Please know, the continued increase in cases is a sign that we are not out of the woods yet, and our current uptick in hospitalized patients would support this, but things are better than the public data may make them appear.

We anticipate that the peak in the pandemic should hit our area of the country in the next 10 – 14 days and the current trends suggest this peak will be within the capacity of our health systems to absorb.  This tells me that the individual choices we have all made to stay at home, to limit exposure to other when we are out, to practice handwashing, all have worked as intended.  The warming weather, which I hope you will take the opportunity to enjoy, may be playing a role as well.

Please know that our work is not finished, it is likely that some darker days lie just ahead, but I believe we can see the top of the mountain from here, and when you can see the top, you know there is a downward slope just over the rise.

Earlier today I received a kind note from one of our nurses who has been on the frontline caring for our patients suffering from the virus.  She expressed the fear and frustration that go hand in hand on this journey.  She ended her note with a verse she has been focusing on lately and I think it is a helpful one for us all to reflect on at this moment: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand” Isaiah 41:10.  What a blessing to know that we are not alone on this journey!

Should your friends and family have questions on the virus, its impact, and the preparations Hancock Health has undertaken, please refer them to our website (http://www.hancockregionalhospital.org/coronavirus/) which has a growing body of resources to help.   If you have not seen the latest video update, it may be found at the following link: https://vimeo.com/402013964

  • The Hancock Triage Clinic, Hancock COVID Triage hotline (317-325-2683 (COVD), and nurse@hancockregional.org email lines continue to provide needed service to the community during this time.  We have now seen nearly 250 patients in the Triage Clinic and handled more than 1,000 calls on the triage phone line – kudos to all those who made this possible!
  • Work to retrofit the Reflections unit to our first COVID unit is complete. The second floor of the Gateway facility has been converted for use as a 50 bed unit in case we need it (and we pray we do not).  The Gateway retrofit was recently featured in a great article in the Greenfield Daily Reporter: http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/2020/04/07/surge_protectors_county_state_prepare_for_peak_covid19_patients_in_coming_weeks/
  • The end of in-person patient visitation has gone well and we have used the e-visitation system to great effect a few times.  We have revised the policy in relation to deaths and births – please ask your department director for more details.  Learn more on e-visitation at https://www.hancockregionalhospital.org/2020/03/friends-or-family-in-the-hospital-e
  • We are blessed to be finding new avenues to obtain additional PPE and for a very generous community as well who are finding and bringing in additional supplies.  Should you have folks in the community who would like to donate to the cause, please have them contact Nancy Davis at ndavis@hancockregional.org.
  • We have developed a temporary transportation team and a food delivery team to help our patients to receive food items and make it to their health care appointments since other transportation options are closing for a while.  If you have patients that need transportation assistance, please contact Amanda Everidge at Aeveridge@hancockregional.org.
  • We have made arrangements with Fairfield Inn to house hospital associates and medical staff, as well as first-responders in the community, who need temporary housing if they are concerned about carrying the virus home with them.  Our efforts are being coordinated by Gretchen Pike and Amanda Everidge and Hancock Health is covering the cost of these rooms and additional information. Please contact you department director for additional information.
  • Do your best, prepare for the worst – then trust God for the victory – Proverbs 21:31

All the Best,
Steve