Avera preparing for surge of patients

SIOUX FALLS, S.D./ABERDEEN, S.D. (Press Release) – Avera health professionals are encouraging everyone to review the basics of COVID-19 awareness and prevention.

First, know what to do if you think you might have the virus. Symptoms include fever over 100 degrees, as well as cough or shortness of breath appearing in the past 14 days.

Call 1-877-AT-AVERA or your clinic first – only visit the Emergency Room for an emergency situation. “This step protects all patients and it gives people clear directions about what they should do in the case of symptoms,” said Kevin Post, DO, Avera Medical Group Chief Medical Officer. “The majority of cases do not require hospitalization and can be treated at home.”

In the case of emergency symptoms that could be life-threatening, get immediate help. Call your local emergency room or 911 to inform them you have COVID-19 symptoms, then go. Emergency symptoms include bluish lips or skin, difficulty breathing, or fever over 104 degrees that doesn’t respond to treatment.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Avera clinics are offering other options for safe care, including virtual visits. Clinics also have designated separate areas of the building or time frames for patients who have health care needs other than respiratory illness.

Avera hospitals are preparing for a predicted surge in COVID-19 patients.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced this week that at residents are “flattening the curve.”
The expected peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations has been cut in half from around 5,000 to 2,500. This peak is still expected mid-June. Sioux Falls’ peak has been decreased to 1,200 to 1,300 hospitalizations, and that peak is now expected in mid-May.

The state and its health systems continue to work together to prepare for the worst case scenario so that hospitals can handle the surge of patients that will come.

Avera has taken measures that include postponing elective procedures to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) like surgical masks. Hospitals are planning for how to increase hospital bed capacity in space such as surgical suites, physical therapy rooms, or areas that are currently unused.

Avera St. Luke’s specific surge plan starts with preparing previously unused rooms on the fourth floor of our hospital for patients. Depending on needs during a surge, Avera St. Luke’s is also prepared to expand overflow into Dakota Plains Surgical Center and the current Addiction Care space, with potential use of the Avera Human Performance Center Aberdeen and the Outpatient Therapy Center.

Post reminds area residents to do what they can to help flatten the curve and reduce the spread of COVID-19:
• Practice social distancing
• Do not attend or host gatherings of more than 10 people
• Especially avoid contact with anyone who is sick
• Stay home when you are sick except to get medical care
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you cannot wash
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Get COVID-19 updates at Avera.org/COVID-19. Learn more about virtual visits at Avera.org/virtual-visits.