Perham Health officials say the hospital is ready when the COVID-19 virus affects Otter Tail County.

Sonda Tolle, Perham Health’s Vice President of Patient Services, said the hospital has been working on a pandemic preparedness plan for the past couple of weeks. That includes making sure that they have adequate supplies and equipment, such as medical masks and gloves, to care for patients who require isolation.

The medical staff has been preparing and reviewing how to care for patients with CODIV-19, Tolle said.

“We can test and we are following the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines for testing,” Tolle said.

The facility has been identifying how they can add additional patient units in both the medical and emergency departments to make sure that they will be able to care for patients, Tolle said.

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Patient and visitor screenings are already in place at Perham Health as they enter the facility, Tolle said. On Thursday, March 19, the entire Perham Health system -- including Perham Living -- began restricting all visitors until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are a few exceptions, such as delivering mothers, and allowances will be determined on a case-by-case basis, Tolle said.

Also Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order for health care providers to postpone elective surgeries and procedures, including nonemergent elective dental procedures, to focus health care capacity and equipment on responding to COVID-19 cases and other emergencies.

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