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Dear Community Members,
We write to you today with an update on the rapidly changing situation in our hospitals and community. We are concerned about the health of our community — the increasing spread of COVID-19 puts our community at risk, and the disease can cause serious illness in people of any age. Now is a critical time in determining our future in the fight against this virus.
At Cottage Health, our Incident Command Center continues to meet daily to ensure we are meeting today’s needs and preparing for future needs. Our hospitals have been steadily preparing even as we provide ongoing care for COVID and non-COVID related conditions.
COVID-19 is active in our community, and local case numbers are rising steeply. This virus spreads easily, and we are seeing growing numbers of people becoming very ill. The patients we are seeing have a variety of symptoms. We can’t let our guard down.
In the past few weeks, the number of laboratory tests ordered and collected by Cottage Health has remained steady at about 2,500 per week, while the weekly percent of positive results has grown from 3.9 to just over 6.2 percent, and yesterday’s positive results were 8.7 percent. This is the time for all of us to recommit to daily safety precautions.
The choices we make today and over this holiday weekend will impact our community — our family, friends, coworkers and neighbors — in the weeks and months ahead. Please stay away from crowded places. Avoid large gatherings, and keep at least a six-foot distance from those outside your household. Wear a face mask when you need to leave your home.
As a community we are being challenged in many ways, social, psychological, and economic. The past efforts of both our community and our employees have enabled us to look forward and adapt. Because of the collective commitment to safety and staying at home this spring, our hospitals were able to build supply inventory and plan for surge capacity needs. While continuing care for non-COVID conditions, Cottage currently has 35 ICU beds and 60 Medical-Surgical beds available for patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Our current COVID-19 inpatient census is just over 18 percent of that capacity.
Patients with COVID-19 receive care on a specialized unit away from other patients, and dedicated staff are trained to use the protective equipment and cleaning protocols needed to protect against the spread of germs. Our hospitals remain safe for ongoing care of non-COVID conditions. Seek medical care if you need it.
Now we are asking for your help again — to protect our community, our patients, and all of those who are essential workers. Please make safe and careful choices this holiday weekend to keep distance and respect and protect others. We can all do our part to prevent this virus from spreading. We often hear the word “surge” in planning for this virus — but we are mindful of what it really means: more people who are seriously ill and fighting for their lives.
We can save lives with just these three proven protections: clean hands, physical distancing, and face coverings. Your partnership in doing these consistently is essential. Though it’s difficult not to be with friends for holidays and celebrations, during this pandemic it’s clear that not gathering with people outside your household could make the difference for our community, and it could save someone’s life.
Your safe choices can help keep the number of COVID cases down, keep our hospitals from reaching surge capacity, and keep our healthcare workers on the frontlines to provide safe care for COVID-19 and for other ongoing health needs.
Thank you for your continued support.
Cottage Health Infectious Disease Division:
Seth Anderson, MD
David Fisk, MD
Lynn Fitzgibbons, MD
Stephen Hosea, MD
Musab Saeed, MD
Mary-Louise Scully, MD
Chiefs of Staff:
Miguel Loya, DO, Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital
Robin Malone, MD, Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital
Marc Zerey, MD, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital
President & CEO, Cottage Health
Edmund Wroblewski, MD
Chief Medical Officer, Cottage Health