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In the Know column: COVID shows Alomere's agility

Had Alomere Health not been here, we would not have been able to care for over 500 COVID+ hospitalized patients as well as thousands of ER and clinic patients.

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By Carl Vaagenes, CEO of Alomere Health

The past few years have certainly presented unique challenges for our hospital and clinics at Alomere Health as our facilities and mission was transformed overnight to become the public health crisis response centers for COVID. This was an especially troublesome time because we were required to curtail access to other essential services for a period of time for a large segment of patients who rely on us. Staff also worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to care for patients with compassion. Sadly, many of the precautionary measures we were required to implement for the safety of our staff and patients that were terribly and emotionally hard on families and staff.

Over time, as we have had time to reflect on the circumstances from a positive perspective, we hold on to the realization that had Alomere Health not been here, we would not have been able to care for over 500 COVID+ hospitalized patients as well as thousands of ER and clinic patients. We also had the privilege of serving nearly 40,000 patients through the mobile collections site at the Alexandria Clinic and the hospital location. In addition, 1,032 COVID+ patients received monoclonal antibody therapy treatments, and our clinic staff administered over 23,801 doses of COVID vaccine to patients from across the region.

Probably one of the most valuable insights we gained as COVID tested us, is that it enabled staff and physicians to realize the depth of our increased agility, competency and capacity to take care of very critical patients, which is something that we will benefit from moving forward. Additionally, the adoption and increased use of telehealth visits was another remarkably positive outcome as we adapted to meet the needs of patients who were either reluctant or unable to come for an in-person clinic visit. While telehealth visits were nearly non-existent pre-COVID, the clinic has provided over 47,470 telephone and video telehealth visits since the beginning of 2020.

Healthcare is a very rewarding field to be working in, and for those of us at Alomere Health that have experienced the grief and pain of the pandemic along with our community, our focus needs to gravitate to healing and rekindling the passion, purpose, and resiliency that drew us to want to be in healthcare. I’m continually grateful for everyone who helped us care for our community though the pandemic, along with the continual support we received from many in our community.

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Carl Vaagenes is the CEO of Alomere Health in Alexandria. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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In December 2020, Becca Zwonitzer (left), a licensed practical nurse at Alomere Health in Alexandria, was the first recipient of the COVID-19 vaccine in Douglas County. She received it from Amanda Potzmann, an Alomere Health registered nurse.
Contributed photo

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