First cases of the virus reported in Mitchell County

by Jon Koster

With confirmed cases of COVID-19 now in Mitchell County, there’s no denying the virus is on our doorstep. Projections from MercyOne estimate 140,000 positive cases will occur during the next few months within a 14-county area of Northern Iowa that includes Mitchell County. 

The virus knows no boundaries and preys upon all of us, especially our fragile elderly. This is a challenge no one wants, yet we are forced to confront it. 

As Mitchell County Regional Health Center (MCRHC) board members, we are facing this challenge with confidence. We share an unwavering faith that our local healthcare professionals will help guide us through this pandemic. They will be there for us. 

We also take our fiduciary responsibility very seriously. Moody’s Investors Service now projects a negative financial outlook for rural hospitals in 2020, an impact that will last well after the pandemic subsides. Federal funding may provide some relief, but it’s unclear at this time just how much that will be and when we could get a share of it. Here’s what is clear: there is no profit during a pandemic. 

Maintaining operations and payrolls while revenue decreases is now part of an unpredictable scenario for businesses across America, and MCRHC is no exception. In compliance with federal and state requirements, elective surgeries and procedures are now postponed. Radiology, lab services and therapies fall into this category as well. 

There is a sharp decline in service volume. Supplies ranging from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to hand sanitizer to face masks are tough to come by and what can be ordered comes at a higher price. Necessary efforts to keep our community safe such as establishing the COVID-19 testing site at the fairgrounds come with the cost of staff transition and training. The list of expenses will go on and up as the number of COVID-19 cases spikes. 

As board members we will rise to meet this challenge and do what it takes to keep MCRHC financially stable, just as it is today. 

As we work to accomplish this, do remember our healthcare workers fighting on the front lines for all of us, taking courage into their own hands. 

The plans in place at MCRHC to manage the pandemic in collaboration with Mitchell County Public Health and our community partners are impressive. 

Now is the time to offer your support – including sheltering in place – to help mitigate the spread of this deadly disease. How fortunate we are to have trusted, quality healthcare right here at home. 

Jon Koster is Chairman of the Mitchell County Regional Health Center Board of Trustees

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