SIOUX CENTER — Sioux Center Health is thankful to the city of Sioux Center for urging residents to follow preventive measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and to ease the pressure on the local and area hospitals.
As of Monday, Sioux Center Health was at 68 percent capacity with 13 patients in its hospital, which has 19 beds. Eight of the 13 patients were active COVID-19 cases.
Sioux Center Health has completed 1,904 PCR nasal swab tests since March, 480 of which were positive for a 23.1 percent positivity rate since the pandemic hit the area in March. However, its positivity rate the past seven days is at 49 percent and its 14-day positivity rate is 42 percent.
“The cases we see are really hitting that older population,” said Sioux Center Health CEO Cory Nelson. “Of the ones we have or have had in the hospital in the past couple of weeks especially have ranged from mid-60s-90s.”
“The people in the hospital are pretty sick,” he added. “They’re all on some level of oxygen.”
Hospital staff have used convalescent plasma, an antiviral medicine called remdesivir and dexamethasone as treatment interventions for patients available outside of ventilators at Sioux Center Health. The hospital is also utilizing other high-flow oxygen methods like a bipap machine to push oxygen at a higher level than it normally would.
Some patients within the past two weeks have also been transferred to other hospitals.
“That’s usually when their respiratory issues exceed our treatment options and they would have a high probability of having a situation where they would decompensate quickly and may potentially need a ventilator, which is something we don’t do,” Nelson said, noting the hospital is seeing recovery. “We are discharging one or two each day, but we’re getting one or two in each day.”
As of Monday, Sioux County had a total of four deaths due to COVID-19.
“We will see that continue to grow as the virus impacts the community and especially the elderly population,” Nelson said.
Due to required testing of nursing home facilities in the past three weeks, Nelson said the hospital has completed 415 tests on staff at Royal Meadows Care Center in Sioux Center and 250 tests on residents. Only two residents and eight staff have tested positive.
That’s a less than 1 percent positive rate for residents and 1.9 percent for staff.
The hospital has also tested its staff and residents of its other assisted living facilities, finding just three residents and three staff test positive.
“The low numbers within our facilities is encouraging,” Nelson said.
All Sioux Center residents and visitors are asked to be part of slowing the spread of coronavirus through other measures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Wear facial coverings/masks when around people who are not household members.
- Maintain 6 or more feet of distance from others in all indoor facilities.
- Continue to practice hand hygiene and sanitize surfaces.
“We really appreciate the support from the city as well as the schools that are participating,” Nelson said. “Everything we can do to slow this down for a while and get through this spike that we’re having in the region is incredibly important. We know not everyone is going to be able to comply in every situation, but we’re thankful for those who are because it does help us make sure we and all the health care systems in the region have the capacity to take care of those who are really sick. It helps us make sure that our health care workforce stays healthy because we need those folks here to take care of people also.”
Sioux Center Health completed 112 tests as of Monday through its Test Iowa site that opened Tuesday, Sept. 29. Hours for the site are 1-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. A total of 22 tests have been positive.
Nelson said 75 percent of those coming through the Sioux Center Health Test Iowa site, which have been people of all ages, are Sioux County residents, 9 percent are from Plymouth County and the remaining are from O’Brien, Woodbury, Lyon and Osceola counties.
Opening the Test Iowa site, Nelson said, may be the reason for the lower call center volume and respiratory clinic visits as the hospital had 419 calls last week compared to 545 the week before and saw 130 patients in its respiratory clinic last week completed to 148 the week before.
“That’s been a positive change,” Nelson said.
A total of 224 people come through Sioux Center Health’s drive-thru flu vaccine clinic Saturday with three more set up this month.
The drive-thru events are held at the temporary building in the north parking lot at 1101 Ninth St. SE. Times and dates are: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 3 and Oct. 17; and 2:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Oct. 7 and Oct. 21. Visit siouxcenterhealth.org/services/clinics/flu-vaccines-forms/ for more information or to download a consent form to fill out ahead for faster service. Also bring a copy of insurance card.
“I can’t stress enough to people to get those flu shots,” Nelson said. The one thing we don’t want to have happen is for people to get influenza and have their systems knocked down by that and then get COVID on top of it. Those conditions can create some dangerous situations for individuals.”