Local health officials painted a picture of how COVID-19 has affected the Eastern Shore in Monday afternoon’s round table discussion with Senator Tim Kaine at the Eastville Community Health Center.
“I think that our partnerships with the Health Department regarding the seasonal migrant farm workers was huge for us,” said Nancy Stern. “We could not set onto a camp, that was a huge different delivery system for them. Trying to work with them, and how upset they were as well, but understanding the growers and their reasoning behind it, we found ourselves in a mediating position. That was a huge difference for us and naturally had a huge concern regarding any type of surge.”
Like many hospitals and healthcare providers around the world, Riverside and Eastern Shore Rural Health took big financial hits from COVID-19 because visits to the centers for routine medical care fell sharply as lockdowns were imposed by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
“Financially we took a huge hit,” added Stern. “It was very beneficial to get the PPP, to help us keep everybody employed, because that was the goal, no furloughs, to keep everyone on with their full compensation package, because we knew we would ramp up again.”
The Eastern Shore experienced an early outbreak at our local poultry plants that scared our public health officials.
“In the beginning of the outbreak, there was the poultry plant experience. At that point, really none of us knew what we were dealing with… frankly that was really scary,” said Richard Williams with the Eastern Shore Health District. “The attack rates in the poultry plants were stunning, 400-some in one plant, pushing 300 in the other. Once we got into the plants and understood the effectiveness of PPE, masking, social distancing, strict adherence to those practices, those cases pretty much stopped cold.”
However, the Eastern Shore has fared well in recent months, better than most of Virginia.
“When you look at outcome metrics, the Eastern Shore is probably the best place in Virginia,” continued Richardson. “When I report each week, its 7 cases, 5 cases, 10 cases max, for both jurisdictions. On the other side of the bay… its 150 cases, 140, 120.”
COVID-19 has been given unprecedented media coverage universally, from the mainstream media, down to local mom and pop operations like ShoreDailyNews.com, and as a result has caused many individuals to put off necessary care due to fear of catching the virus in a medical setting.
“There are people not seeking care right now. So two things are on our mind, our ER volume is down, so we’ve seen an increase in strokes, in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest because people are afraid to come,” said John Peterman, Administrator of Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital. “As we get ready for the next wave, are we going to see that again?”