Northern Inyo Hospital Opening Services for Non-Coronavirus Patients

Interim Chief Medical Officer of Northern Inyo Healthcare District, Dr. Will Timbers, provided the latest update on how the hospital is faring in its fight against the coronavirus.

Timbers says the hospital is opening up limited operations this week in order to assist people who need other health concerns addressed which are unrelated to COVID-19. “Starting today, we are shifting the hospital toward limited operations. We will be providing many of the services we provided before the pandemic hit, just with some alterations such as implementing things like social distancing and providing telehealth visits when possible,” Timbers said.

Some of these services include surgeries, doctor checkups, and other hospital examinations.

Over the past month and a half, the hospital has modified nearly all of its operations to combat COVID-19. Because of these alterations, the hospital has had a large decrease in hospital admissions, which has taken its toll on the district’s income. Dr. Timbers spoke more about the lack of revenue saying, “I can tell you it has had big impact on the district’s finances. We have cash on hand currently and we are looking at how long we can sustain operations with that.”

Timbers also said the hospital is seeking assistance from the government. “The federal government appears to be working on a bill that will help critical access hospitals. If we don’t get help from the new bill, our grant department has also been busy trying to acquire funding,” the Interim Chief Medical Officer added.

Herd immunity from coronavirus could play a factor in curtailing the amount of new infections in the coming months. However, Dr. Timbers appears to be cautious when it comes to the notion that once people have coronavirus, they cannot get it again. Timbers said, “Making blanket statements about herd immunity this early is a bit immature. There are still some unanswered questions. We don’t know about whether or not COVID mutates and changes every year like the seasonal flu. If that is the case, herd immunity is not going to be very effective. My hope is for a vaccination from COVID-19 to happen sooner rather than later. That is going to be our best chance of stamping this out.”

Though a vaccination is not going to happen in the immediate future, social distancing and other preventative measures have made a difference in limiting the amount of new cases of COVID-19. Timbers emphasized that the community is doing an excellent job when it comes to “flattening the curve.”

“I wanted to say thanks to entire community for their participation in this effort. If they weren’t covering up and social distancing, we would be in a different place right now,” Timbers expressed.