Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and Allen County Commissioners Rich Beck, Therese Brown, and Nelson Peters were joined by Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan, Dr. Jason Row, Parkview Health, Dr. Vishal Bhatia, Lutheran Health Network, and Dr. Geoff Randolph, IU Health-Fort Wayne.
Healthcare leaders discussed the current status of operations/what they’re seeing, how treatment is going at their respective facilities, how the community has come together to help, what the public can do to help the health sector, and where we go from here in the health sector.
Highlights of the ongoing medical response:
Allen County Department of Health: The COVID-19 pandemic has tested our community in a number of ways and especially the healthcare system. Our healthcare providers routinely deliver state of the art medical services to Allen County residents, but doing so in the face of an extremely contagious virus that causes a severe illness in 20% of those infected reflects both professional competence and integrity. But for the excellent medical care delivered to our sickest patients, our mortality rate would be even higher. Looking forward, as we learn to coexist with COVID and move into a new normal, we need to return to managing our chronic healthcare conditions including diabetes and heart disease as well as diagnosing and treating COVID. Thankfully, we have the medical resources to move into this new normal and provide the level of care our community has come to expect.
Parkview Health: As our community looks to reopen, Parkview Health is also planning for what the new normal looks like. As we continue to care for COVID-19 patients, we will soon resume safely caring for other patients, many of whom who have had to delay their care due to COVID-19. To appropriately care for both groups, we’ll constantly monitor COVID-19 activity in our region and be nimble and prepared to shift our focus, if necessary.
Lutheran Health Network: We have seen a decrease in the number of patients with COVID-19 in the ICU since the initial peak. We closely monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 in the state and Allen County as well as our capacity, personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and other supplies and we continue to be prepared to provide safe and appropriate care in the event of a resurgence. We will continue to work with our local and state departments of health and other health care systems to slowly increase the care that has been delayed due to COVID-19. This collaboration, which has been a strength during the response, also enables a consistent, thoughtful approach as we resume much needed healthcare services, prioritizing by medical necessity, patient and procedure risk, careful and purposeful screening with the safety of all as the top priority. As always, procedural decisions are determined between the physician and patient as medical judgment takes precedence. We will continue to move forward together to take care of our community.
IU Health-Fort Wayne: Statewide, IU Health has used an incident command driven, highly coordinated effort to virtually screen, diagnose and treat COVID-19 in all of our regions. Within our system we are sharing human resources (intensivist teams, physicians, clinical and registration staff), equipment (ventilators) and creatively sourcing and fostering appropriate use of protective equipment and supplies. IU Health patients have a wide array of health conditions, acute and chronic, that require medical attention and many have deferred care so as to not “burden” healthcare providers and/or to maintain their own safety. In order to provide care for our patients in the safest way, we have adapted to using Virtual Medicine with the patients in which it is appropriate. About 25% of our patients still require an in-person evaluation and those are being accomplished with appropriate safeguards. Over the next few months, we will slowly ramp up in-person services as the number and severity of COVID-19 patients decline and as the government deems appropriate. Meantime, the public can best help by maintaining social distancing, masking in public and frequent use of sanitizer on hands. The public display of support for healthcare workers in a multitude of ways has been very effective in rejuvenating and inspiring our team members.
“We’re fortunate to have outstanding healthcare systems committed to providing the best care possible. Thank you to the doctors, nurses, and support staff for being our frontline heroes in the battle against COVID-19,” said Mayor Henry. “Let’s come together and be there for one another. The end result will be a stronger and more connected community that will be prepared to move forward to ensure we continue to be a point of destination city and county.”
“Allen County has no higher priority than to protect the health and safety of our citizens and our employees. Our public health community is actively and closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and working hard to stay on top of this evolving situation. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all the healthcare workers, first-responders and everyone doing essential work for putting themselves at risk for the benefit of our community,” said the Board of Commissioners.
With more cases of COVID-19 being confirmed in Allen County, Mayor Henry and the Board of Commissioners continue to stress the importance of practicing social distancing, washing hands thoroughly and regularly, and limiting activities in group settings. The public is reminded to be vigilant and use good judgment as a result of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s ongoing stay-at-home order.
The public is encouraged to visit www.cityoffortwayne.org/covid-19 where a community resource page has been created and is updated regularly with information about COVID-19.