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Fairfield Memorial Hospital has been a steadfast leader in healthcare for over 50 years. This has never been more evident than it has been this year due to the COVID Pandemic that has changed how everyone goes about their daily lives.


The decision to administer the coronavirus vaccine at Fairfield Memorial Hospital for our frontline workers comes with two goals: to prevent spreading the virus to our patients and to communicate to the surrounding rural communities that the vaccine is safe and available. Fairfield Memorial Hospital feels it is important as a healthcare leader, that we are also leading the way on this important initiative.


When the pandemic crisis began to unfold in the early part of March, the leaders of Fairfield Memorial Hospital stood up and took charge by developing a COVID Disaster Response Team, appointed Dr. Chris Ballard as the COVID Lead Physician Champion, and began the arduous task of planning, preparing, and dealing with the rapidly changing world of healthcare. During the course of this pandemic, FMH has expended over $60,000 a week in testing supplies for COVID testing.


Additionally, over $250,000 has been spent to purchase equipment for COVID patients in need of hospitalization due to the severity of their illness. Items that were purchased include High Flow Vapotherm, Ultraviolet Lights for terminal cleaning of patient care areas, and a portable ultrasound that is used by the providers in the Respiratory Illness Screening tent to check patients for COVID pneumonia. This does not include the $500,000 that has been spent in purchasing personal protective equipment for our staff and patients.


At the time of this article being written we have 10 patients who are inpatients in our hospital with COVID whose condition warranted long term therapy. Due to our outstanding team of Providers and Staff, we have been able to take care of most COVID patients in our facility. Less than 5% of the patients that have presented with COVID related illnesses have had to be transferred to other facilities for care. These patients are typically ventilator patients or whose co-morbidities has warranted that they be treated in a tertiary facility. This transfer rate is one of the lowest in the region, and is especially low for rural hospitals.


It is because of the research, determination, perseverance, and dedication of the team at Fairfield Memorial Hospital that we have been able to keep our loved ones close to home while they battle this virus. Fairfield Memorial Hospital has stayed up-to-date on the forefront of the latest treatments for COVID-19 patients. FMH had Remdesivir in our facility within days of it receiving emergency approval from the FDA. We began providing convalescent plasma to patients on August 26thafter it received approval from the FDA on August 23rd. We were able to provide Bamlanivimab, which is the newest preferred treatment of COVID by the CDC, starting in November within 15 days of it being on the market. This required our staff to set up a designated outpatient area for patients to receive the medication with dedicated staff for the three hour infusion process.


All of Fairfield Memorial Hospital’s hard work has not gone unnoticed and has helped lead our organization to being listed in the top prioritization of rural hospitals for the COVID vaccination in the State of Illinois, outside of Cook County. Fairfield Memorial Hospital is grateful to have such an amazing Healthcare Team that has worked tirelessly to provide the best possible care to our community.


“In my 40 years in healthcare, I have never experienced such camaraderie and complete dedication and loyalty to the health of a community as I have witnessed here at Fairfield Memorial Hospital. This doesn’t just include the Hospital and its Clinics, but includes working with school districts, the Wayne County Health Department, first responders, as well as, family members and volunteers. Everyone who has helped make masks, gowns, sent cards and letters of support, food, and more have helped make sure staff are emotionally equipped to handle this horrific pandemic. We have heard from several of the physicians that travel to our hospital from other facilities, including Cardiologists, about the impressiveness of our team’s response as it is comparable to the activities of metropolitan hospitals and is not always seen in rural hospitals.” stated FMH CEO Katherine Bunting-Williams.


As predicted by National and Global Leaders, we are seeing an increase in cases since the Thanksgiving holiday and not a leveling out that we all desperately wish to see. There is a significant concern that the number of cases will rise even higher with the approaching holiday season. We ask that you continue to wear masks, social distance as much as possible, wash hands, and stay safe.


Hopefully with the vaccinations that are coming out and continued preventative measures we will emerge from this pandemic, but until then we must all stay vigilant and do whatever we can to keep our loved ones healthy. If the timeline by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues as expected, we hope to be able to offer the vaccine to the public by mid-February. This is contingent upon many variables and more information will be forthcoming as it becomes available.

Pictured are Dr. Patrick Molt, MD, FACS, Chief of Surgery; Dr. Chris Ballard, MD, FMH COVID-19 Lead Physician; and the vaccinations being delivered by the Wayne County Sheriff and the Wayne County Health Department

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