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Glasgo updates Trinity Foundation during virtual town hall meeting

UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Leah Glasgo shared lessons learned by the hospital during the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic, during a Trinity Foundation virtual town hall on Monday afternoon.

Glasgo started by talking about how UnityPoint Health prepares for emergencies at a local level, like tornadoes, fires and mass casualties.

“This time was a little different,” she said about COVID-19. “We were able to adopt most of (our existing) plans to our COVID response.”

The hospital expanded its ability to care for critical care patients by adding another critical care space to increase capacity. It also opened up the 2 North floor for use for COVID-19 patients and created an expanded emergency department to care for a surge of COVID-19 patients should the need arise.

“Those plans we put in very quickly and were able to respond,” Glasgo said of the initial days and weeks of the pandemic. “The rest of our plans were well thought of, useful in gaining supplies and shuffling staff. We did a lot of training and cross training for staff to be able to be in different areas of our organization.”

As of Friday, TRMC has cared for 39 in-patient COVID-19 patients.

“These patients have come from all over our region,” Glasgo said. “They are coming from our rural hospital partners and people right here in Fort Dodge.”

Twenty of those patients have recovered and gone home, the hospital CEO said. Eight have been moved into long term care facilities for rehab and recovery. Two have recovered and come back for more intensive care.

Seven individuals have died of COVID-19 under the care of the hospital, Glasgo said.

“Things changed very quickly for COVID,” Glasgo said. “We know that although we had all these moving parts, our commitment was to our team and our community, while continuing to evaluate how this was going to impact our organization.”

Glasgo said she expects that Fort Dodge will likely see another surge of COVID-19 patients in the fall.

“We have no indications to believe that we won’t,” she said.

Glasgo also talked about the ways TRMC has treated COVID-19 patients. For those who are intubated and on a ventilator, the patient is rotated between laying on their back and their stomach periodically throughout the day.

“There’s some research that says this helps with the oxygenation, the ability for their lungs to clear out this nasty virus,” she said.

The hospital uses a high-flow nasal cannula to treat patients to prevent the need to go on a ventilator.

“We’ve had great success keeping people with these high-flow nasal cannulas,” Glasgo said. “This apparatus puts oxygen in a very high-pressure way in through the nose and it ventilates the lungs, but it doesn’t require us to put people to sleep.”

With fall on the horizon, Glasgo was asked about the best time to get a flu shot. She recommended getting this year’s influenza vaccine “right away.”

She said many physicians already have the vaccine available.

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