ALPENA, Mich. — With cases of coronavirus impacting areas around the world, Alpena and some surrounding counties still have no confirmed cases. Reporter Lauren Mixon spoke with the president of MidMichigan Health to ask how this could be, and to find out what hospital employees are doing to prepare.
“We’ve been preparing [for] this for several weeks now,” says president of MidMichigan Health Alpena, regarding the absence of coronavirus cases in MidMichigan. Alpena is one of few counties left in the state that has no reported cases, leaving many to wonder if people are being tested.
President of the hospital, Chuck Sherwin, says,”Clearly we’re doing less testing in our area because we have less population and less people. But because we’re so much more spread out than in urban areas, I think that’s the bigger component.”
Sherwin says he doesn’t know how many people have been tested so far, but some have been conducted in the E.R., an outdoor triage unit, and other clinical practices, and he says staff is gearing up for when confirmed patients do start coming in.
“At this point, we have enough personal protective equipment, that’s called PPE. Being part of a health system is extremely important to us because if we get low, we have other hospitals within our subsidiaries, MidMichigan Health, that can send the supplies, but today, we have enough supplies to manage an influx of patients.”
While the hospital is prepared, Sherwin says following Governor Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order is critical. The state is keeping close track of confirmed cases and fatalities, but Sherwin says, focus should be placed on preventative measures as well.
“I think the story that we’re not hearing right now in the media is that many people are recovering from this virus. Some people will actually have the virus and not even realize that they have it, and that’s the scary part, because if I had it, and I go to the store, I could talk to somebody, I don’t feel sick, but I could transmit that virus to somebody else that could get sick. And that’s really why were doing this social distancing.”
Sherwin says exercising and practicing deep breathing are some other ways to be proactive.
“When fluid builds up in the lungs, your ability to expand those lungs and to move the lungs really helps to move that fluid around and dissipate it out of your lungs. And so if you’re just sitting on the couch watching TV all day eating potato chips, that’s probably not in your best interest.”
Sherwin says the hospital has been cooperating with county and local personnel to ensure everyone is on the same page during the coronavirus response. He is still asking everyone to stay home in order to protect themselves and the area’s vulnerable populations.