The spread of COVID-19 across the state has heightened the awareness and precautions are being taken throughout the community.
This includes all services in the community, including first responders, school officials and care givers.
More extreme measures are being taken by the staff at Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinics.
Anyone coming through the front door, even those picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy, will need to be checked for fever and other symptoms before entering the facility.
According to CEO John Ayoub, there is a triage nurse at the entrance who evaluates people before they are allowed to pass the front lobby. He said the triage nurse is the direct link to the physicians and makes the initial contact with anyone entering the front door.
“This is a quickly changing dynamic,” he said. “We ask for people to be patient and have respect for the people who are doing their jobs.”
The staff are taking these measures to slow down any spread of the virus and keep the patients and staff at the facility safe from those who may be infected. Every member of the staff is checked every day before they are allowed to conduct their duties.
Those who have loved ones at the facility and are there to visit, must come through the emergency room entrance.
Ayoub said the staff is conducting swaps that are then sent to the state lab for testing. He said 15 tests have been sent for testing. After residents have been evaluated by the triage nurse, it is up to physicians to prioritize each case and order a test if it is needed.
“We have done some drive-up swabbing with the physician going out to the vehicle to conduct the swabs there,” said Ayoub. “There have been no positive tests.”
He said the community will get through this situation together. That means taking care of those who are the most vulnerable to the virus and checking on neighbors.
“We want to be proud of the way we got through this,” said Ayoub.
To help stem the spread of the virus, using common sense and washing hands thoroughly and frequently are necessary. Other measures to take include: avoid close contact with people who are sick; stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care; cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue; clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
MP School District
Mobridge-Pollock Superintendent Tim Frederick said the announcement that all schools will be closed until May 1 puts pressure on the district to get a lot of matters taken care of between May 1 and the end of the school year. The school board will make decisions on canceling activities and how to prepare and conduct graduation.
Until that time, all activities in the district are cancelled.
Frederick said teachers are coming in several times a week to prepare videos, hold on-line classes and help students with on-line learning.
“This is an exciting time for us in education,’ he said. “The parents and teachers have had more contact in the past weeks than I think they have had all school year. We are learning a lot on both sides.”
Frederick said the instructors are learning more about on-line learning, which is the way of the future. He said this will give them confidence in their abilities to use on-line methods of teaching. The staff is taking precautions, practicing social distancing and cleaning and disinfecting their areas.
The staff is also continuing serving sack meals to the community and will continue to do so throughout the shutdown. On Tuesday, more than 170 meals were distributed to the children of the community.
Emergency services in the community have had to deal with each emergency with the utmost precaution. According to the Walworth County Emergency Manager Amanda Silbernagel, her department has been working in support of the South Dakota Department of Health (DoH) in getting out information and supplies to the departments in need.
She said on Tuesday, March 24 that she is working to get emergency supplies that have been released from the state to first responders, law enforcement, and fire departments.
“Mobridge is one of six points of distribution in the state,” said Silbernagel. “The DoH opened up the supply pods at those points of distribution and I have been able to get the masks and other equipment to the emergency services.”
Mobridge Chief of Police Shawn Madison said there are some incidences that can be dealt with over the phone, but officers will take care of more serious issues as they normally would, with more precautions.
He said they have had issues with the special respirator masks provided by the state. The masks are not fitting the officers and he has requested other larger masks for his staff. Other special equipment that will be used by officers include protective eye goggles, and he is waiting for disposable gowns that will be used when necessary.
Officers will maintain safe distances when they make contact with citizens but will be continue with patrolling the streets and making sure residents are safe.