MURRAY — For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold locally, the Murray-Calloway County Public Hospital Corporation Board of Trustees met on Wednesday.

However, the usual style for this gathering was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the Garrison Board Room in the North Tower of the hospital campus only had a few people present as the idea of social distancing was exercised to prevent having a large number in the same room, per directives from state and federal leaders.

Everyone else was in tune with the meeting by means of video or audio. Not surprisingly, the ongoing coronavirus situation took precedence in CEO Jerry Penner’s customary leadership report, which included acknowledgement of the county’s second confirmed case that was unveiled that morning by the Calloway County Health Department.

“From what I’m told, both patients are doing well and are quarantined at home,” Penner said, adding that traffic continues to be heavy at the Murray Medical Associates Upper Respiratory Clinic that was formed about two weeks ago at the Medical Arts Building. “We have now seen just shy of 300 patients so far and that has really been a tremendous thing for us. We are still seeing strep, as well as Flu A and Flu B.

“I met with the stakeholders (of MCCH), all 37 of them, on Feb. 25 and told them we’d be monitoring this every single day, and we have. I’m now meeting with (Calloway County Office of Emergency Management) three times a week and we're also having daily communication with (hospital) CEOs around the region to see what they’re seeing and what we might expect here.”

Penner reiterated that visitation at both the hospital and Spring Creek Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, which MCCH runs, are closed to visitors. He also reported that Spring Creek, closed to visitors since the first week of March, experienced a rough stretch when some of its staff were hit with the flu. He also said that, currently, four registered nurses at the hospital are in voluntary self-quarantine as a precaution.

He also said every staff member, including administrators, doctors, nurses, etc., are being administered temperature checks at all three major entrances to the facility before they are allowed to go on duty. He said that has been a policy at MCCH the past few weeks.

Penner also reported that he believes the hospital has enough personal protective equipment to last 30 days, which includes the shipment the Calloway County Health Department delivered earlier this week to not only MCCH, but also other medical interests throughout the community.

Penner also acknowledged that the hospital had a strong February financially, finishing about $512,000 above budget for income/loss from operations.

“However, we can probably assume that our finances are gong to tank, especially with the restrictions on elective procedures (ordered at all medical facilities by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear in an effort to conserve PPEs),” he said. “It was the right thing to do, though. This is not about finances at this time, but it’s about the overall health care of our community.”

Penner also said that a close eye will be kept on Washington and the progress in the drafting of an economic stimulus package for Americans, particularly on how this might affect hospitals.

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