Hillsdale Hos­pital con­tinues to ensure safety mea­sures as cases decline. Courtesy | Hillsdale Hos­pital

COVID-19 cases in Hillsdale County have been decreasing since late November and hos­pi­tal­iza­tions have also been decreasing since a peak in the second week of December.

Hillsdale Hospital’s Director of Mar­keting and Devel­opment Rachel Lott said, “We did see our numbers decrease sig­nif­i­cantly from November to December. According to the data com­piled by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Ser­vices, we had a decrease in new COVID-19 cases in Hillsdale County of 30% month- over- month, from November to December. That means the number of new cases has gone down sig­nif­i­cantly during that time period.”

According to the tracking website Covid Act Now, the peak of new cases in Hillsdale County was on November 21 and 22, when there was an average of 51.7 new cases, or 113.4 per 100 thousand res­i­dents, which steadily declined to 39.2 new cases on December 22, or 86.6 per 100 thousand res­i­dents. This number has con­tinued to decline into January; on January 11, there were 27.7 new cases, or 60.8 per 100 thousand res­i­dents. These case numbers are frac­tional due to them being an average of the last 7‑day period.

As cases declined, so did hos­pi­tal­iza­tions.

“The other thing we saw at the hos­pital was that since our peak in terms of inpa­tients who have COVID-19 at the hos­pital, we’ve decreased 42 percent, and our average number of COVID-19 patients that we have admitted to the hos­pital everyday from the beginning of December to the beginning of January,” Lott said. “So during that month we saw a nice decrease from our peak.”

According to Lott, the hos­pital is still taking similar mea­sures to ensure the safety of all staff and vis­itors.

“Our pro­tocols really haven’t changed much since stu­dents left for winter break,” Lott said.  We still are lim­iting our vis­i­tation, we still are doing all the things we’ve been doing since the beginning of COVID-19 in terms of screening everyone who comes in, not just at the hos­pital but at all of our loca­tions and clinics that are owned and operated by Hillsdale Hos­pital. We’re screening everyone, we’re not allowing vis­itors except in limited cir­cum­stances.”

Lott said that patients admitted to the hos­pital are likely safer than ever.

“In terms of our pro­tocols and what we’re doing at the hos­pital we’re still doing all the things that we’ve been doing to keep all of our patients safe from COVID-19 when they come in. It is probably one of the safest times you could ever be at the hos­pital because we’ve put in so many addi­tional mea­sures in place to keep people safe and we’re con­tinuing to do all of those things.”

Hillsdale Hos­pital has also found ways to interact with the local com­munity to keep COVID-19 infor­mation readily available. The hos­pital hosts a weekly Facebook Live event called the “What’s Up Wednesday” show to keep the com­munity updated and address con­cerns.

The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Com­munity Health Agency website also revamped its display of COVID-19 infor­mation to make it more acces­sible to the public. The site includes toolkits, vaccine infor­mation, counts, and testing infor­mation.

Regarding vaccine avail­ability for stu­dents, Lott said it depends on how it is imple­mented nationally and at a state level.

“As far as the vaccine relates to the stu­dents, it remains to be seen when the vaccine will be available to stu­dents, whether at Hillsdale College or any­where,” Lott said. “The younger age group right now, the nation and the state of Michigan specif­i­cally is working through those initial tiers, which include the high pri­ority groups like health care workers, people who are critical infra­structure and frontline essential workers, edu­cators, things like that.”

Because supply of the vaccine is limited and pri­or­i­tized by group, Lott said that it will likely not be available to stu­dents until it is available to the general public at large.