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Congressman Dunn and Northwest Florida Communiy Hospital give updates on business

Kevin Boyer
Washington County News

CHIPLEY - In a recent discussion with Congressmen Neal Dunn and Northwest Florida Community Hospital CEO Mike Kozar, the two candidly gave their insights on the situations in the areas as the COVID-19 situation continues.

At the time of the meeting, which was done remotely from Zoom meeting rooms on their respective computer screens, a new iterative way of meeting that has taking the world by storm since the new social distancing requirement as the pandemic took off, Kozar said no inpatient cases of the virus were noted at the hospital. He also said he tested his employees for the virus and had a low rate of employees return back with a positive result

“Out of 185 employees we had four test positive,” Kozur said. “”And they tested negative afterwards.“

Kozar also said 500 drive-tru testing completed at the hospital.

“Initiatally we started as referral testing and some people had symptoms,” he said.

When the outbreak hit, Kiozar said inpatient care dropped approxiamtely 40 percent, Emergency Room business dropped approximately 60 percent and outpatient surgery went, “basicaly zero” he said. Though business was down for the hospital, he said it was not as severe as for Bay County which saw its business go down in it’s entirety at a rate of approximately 70 percent according to Congressman Dunn.

As the business begins to pick back up Kozar said ER currently is still running 30 percent behind budget.

“I want to thank [Congressman Dunn] for the various stimulus things we have received” Kozar said.

Kozar said going forward he sees his “handicap” going forward is the need for rapid testing. He said the hospital currently has Abbot equipment but does not have test kits needed for them. Currently when a test is run on a patient for COVID, it is taking anywhere between 4-10 days to get results, according to Kozar.

Kozar said internet broadband services needs to be increased for the services to allow more residents the opportunity to be able to utilize tele-health visits, which he said alot of people have been not be able to do and therefore have been putting their own health at risk as a result.

Kozar said the community at large have a mixed reaction when it comes to the feeling of reopening the community. He said some feel it is time to get things back to normal and some are still in a state of panic.

Congressman Dunn said altogether his districts are doing very well and are not considered a hot spot for the disease.

Currently there is another phase in the bailout plan that Dunn said Congress is having in a “pause” mode as they continue to work it out so that it will be what is based for the people.

“We are looking at what we can do that is target and intelligent and actually provides.”

Dunn said as far as reopening, he agrees each region is different when it comes to reopening and he believes a standard needs to be set to, “not strangle the economy anymore,” but he said it is an extremely sensitive situation to try to navigate.

He said as far as the future of the disease, he wants to be positive but said don’t expect it to be a one time thing.

“I’ve said it before, this will probably be a seasonal flu,” he said. “but we have made some great strides in research and we are almost there on getting a vaccine.”