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Santa Barbara- S County

Cottage Hospital CEO releases community message on COVID-19

Cottage Hospital Health

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Ron Werft, President and CEO of Cottage Health, released a community message early Monday afternoon to address the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it is having on the local hospitals.

"Our emergency medicine physicians, intensivists, and infectious disease specialists are seeing a daily increase in the number of patients with symptoms that require assessment and in some cases testing, admission, and intensive care. For those dedicated to health care, this is the professional challenge of our lives," Werft said.

The three-page message details the scope of staff involved, all-hands-on-deck, in response to the growing need for care from physicians, nurses, therapists, and technologists to other frontline caregivers including those ensuring that rooms and units are clean and disinfected. "The heroes of our day... speaking with hospital staff today, I heard, 'This is what I signed up for,' and 'It’s what I do.'"

Werft confirmed that Cottage Health is seeing an increase in patients with serious respiratory illness and its staff is treating patients with COVID-19. He also admitted that local health and medical experts will be navigating a maze of unknowns in the upcoming days and weeks.

We've reported in recent weeks that supply shortages are expected across the country. Werft explained that despite preparations and orders put in back in January, many routine supply orders have not yet arrived because of Global demand.

Werft cites the number of masks normally used, versus the sharp spike during the pandemic.

"We’ve gone from typical usage rate of about 25 masks per day to a current use of more than 500 masks a day. We expect that rate to significantly increase."

Cottage currently has 39 adult and pediatric ventilators with another 21 on order.

"Collaborative efforts are underway with Santa Barbara County Public Health, Sansum Clinic, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, and area hospitals. Much of our situation will depend on the collective community effort to self-isolate, observe social distancing and slow the spread of the virus," Werft said.

Aside from social distancing, keeping six feet between people, here is another way you can help. Cottage Health is organizing a collection center: On Tuesday, March 24 we will open a drive-through collection center for medical supply donations. The drop-off location will be in the parking area adjacent to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital at 351 S. Patterson Avenue. Drop off hours will be 10 am – 5 pm until further notice.

Supplies being accepted include:

  • Faces shields – single use or non-disposable  
  • Eye shields – single use or non-disposable
  • Isolation Gowns or Standard level 3 gowns
  • N95 Masks
  • N99 Masks  
  • Standard Procedure Masks

"On behalf of all the healthcare workers on the frontlines of fighting this virus, I ask for the community’s support. We need you now more than ever to stand with us in safeguarding the health of this community."

To read the entire community message, click here.

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3.