With the pandemic no longer stressing them, rural hospitals in Kentucky are reflecting on what it taught them. Liz Carey of The Daily Yonder reports
on St. Claire Regional Medical Center
in Morehead, which at the height of the pandemic had 160 Covid-19 patients and four temporary intensive-care units in its parking lot.
“One of the biggest lessons we learned was that we need to be more flexible and adapt more quickly,” CEO Donald Lloyd told Carey. “We had to learn how to be nimble and how to be innovative, and gained the ability to develop, test, and implement procedures quickly.”
Lloyd also said the hospital will continue to rely more on telemedicine, or telehealth. “Before the pandemic, telehealth visits weren’t common at his hospital,” Carey reports. Now telemedicine accounts for 18% of clinic visits and more than 80% of behavioral-health visits, Lloyd said. Carey writes, “Telehealth is more convenient for rural residents who might have transportation issues, but it helps with rural hospitals’ labor shortage as well, he said.”
Speaking of labor, “One of the big positives that has come from this very unfortunate thing is a recognition of the resiliency of our workforce,” Lloyd said. “We have to be more cognizant of the impact that so much trauma has on our health-care workers. Those doctors and nurses train to deal with death, but I don’t think anyone has trained for a disaster that has lasted for more than two years.”