People and organizations throughout Dickinson County have managed a lot with the COVID-19 pandemic. From the healthcare perspective, Lakes Regional Healthcare (LRH) has changed visitor policies and infection control processes and provided testing and treatment for COVID-19. Dickinson County Public Health (DCPH) has vaccinated people against the virus. As the seasons have changed, new information is learned about the virus, and availability of the vaccine is increased, everybody has adjusted in order to best meet the challenges. Dickinson County has recently achieved a milestone in those vaccinated while the state has expanded the definition of who is eligible to receive the vaccine. For these and other reasons, LRH and DCPH will be changing their processes for COVID-19 vaccination and testing.
Test Iowa Clinic to End April 16
The Test Iowa Clinic will be closing Friday, April 16 for two reasons. The number of people who utilize the Test Iowa Clinic has been consistently declining since February. According to LRH Chief Nursing Officer Chris Ingraham, the clinic tests about 40 people a day at most, and usually it’s only about 25 people. He said, “We believe we can now handle the number of tests in a different way, and reduce the staffing requirements specifically for testing purposes.” Furthermore, the Test Iowa Clinic was a partnership between LRH and the State of Iowa, which was tentatively scheduled to end on April 16.
Patients who are symptomatic or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 are encouraged to call their local provider at Lakes Regional Family Medicine by calling 712-336-3750.
Online COVID-19 Questionnaire to be Discontinued
For the initial vaccine rollout, DCPH asked those interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccination to complete a questionnaire found on LRH’s website. The questionnaire included the person’s age and health conditions, which allowed DCPH to administer over 4,350 doses of the Moderna vaccine to those eligible and most vulnerable to COVID-19. At this point less than 20 people complete the questionnaire each day, and it’s now easier to provide the vaccine to more people in the community because of the vaccine’s availability at DCPH and other locations such as the Hy-Vee Pharmacy. For these reasons, the questionnaire will no longer be available or used beginning Monday, March 22.
When DCPH was vaccinating the 65 and older population, they were reaching out to those who had completed the online questionnaire and asking them to come in to vaccine clinics. Now that more people are eligible to receive the vaccine, DCPH will provide COVID-19 vaccine clinic scheduling links at www.lakeshealth.org/ and on LRH’s Facebook page.
More People are Eligible to Receive Vaccine
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently expanded the definition of those who can get vaccinated for COVID-19. In addition to people over age 65, DCPH is now also vaccinating people ages 18 to 64 who have medical conditions that put them at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, which include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions
- Immunocompromised (weakened immune system)
- Obesity or severe obesity
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
People included in Tier 1 have been vaccinated, according to Lakes Regional Healthcare Director of Population and Public Health Katy Burke. She said, “We are now focusing on Group 1 of Phase 1B Tier 2, which includes those with disabilities living in home settings and their attendant care staff. We will then open up Tier 2 Group 2 to support those in the manufacturing industries that are unable to socially distance.”
DCPH has been receiving 300 doses per week and was recently told by the IDPH that amount will not increase in the foreseeable future.