Editor, Times-Union:

I’m writing today with an update on Kosciusko Community Hospital’s preparation for the presence of COVID-19 in Kosciusko County. Our executive and department leaders are monitoring updates to local, state and federal guidance in response to the ever-evolving situation. We are prepared to protect the safety and well-being of our healthcare system team and all patients, should any members of our community develop symptoms of COVID-19 requiring hospital care.

Admissions staff are carefully screening all patients for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors including fever with a cough or difficulty breathing, exposure to someone known to be infected with COVID-19 or travel from an area with a concentration of COVID-19 cases. To date (March 26), a total of 61 patients in our hospital and urgent care facilities have demonstrated symptoms or risk factors of a COVID-19 infection. As of this morning (March 26), a total of zero positive cases have been identified in Kosciusko County.

As any patient suspected of having COVID-19 is identified, the individual is placed in an isolated room or area away from other patients and given a medical mask to wear. Only a small care team interacts with the patient. If the Emergency Department or attending physician determines a patient with symptoms meets the risk criteria, they will coordinate testing and the patients’s ultimate disposition, consulting with the Department of Health, as needed.

Infection control is our top priority. Our staff members are trained in the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including medical masks, N-95 respirators, goggles and gowns. We actively maintain our PPE inventory based on the number of patients in our care and we have sufficient inventory to tend to our patients. Our resources are being increased so we are prepared for the event of a surge in patients. We are preserving and conserving our PPE inventory in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

We extend gratitude for the skills and compassion of our nurses, physicians, advanced practice providers, respiratory therapists, technicians and all members of our team. We understand our responsibility to protect our caregivers with the resources and practices to minimize unnecessary exposure to infection and we are restricting visitor access to the hospital at this time as part of this response.

Kosciusko Community Hospital, all healthcare organizations and caregivers in the community are focused on responding appropriately to this monumental health emergency. We applaud the well-organized collaboration that is being demonstrated daily from a countywide emergency response team. Mayor Thallemer, city of Warsaw and county officials have allocated resources under the leadership of Emergency Response Coordinator Ed Rock. Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory and countywide fire departments, police, EMS, the sheriff’s department, physicians, nurses and hospital staff are unified in their mission to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. We are grateful for the leadership demonstrated by Teresa Reed, RN, and Dr. William Remington from the Kosciusko County Health Department and the Indiana State Department of Health. The public’s participation in social distancing and sheltering in place is critical to reducing the number of people who are infected. Our hospital is just one piece of the needed action to fight COVID-19.

For the most accurate, up-to-date information regarding our hospital’s preparedness, I invite you to visit LutheranHealth.net/coronavirus. You are also welcome to call our free, 24-hour information line at 260-435-5050. To learn more about the Indiana Department of Health COVID-19 response, visit https://www.in.gov/coronavirus/. For in-depth information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/.

Jae Dale, CEO

Kosciusko Community Hospital