Healthcare leaders assess COVID-19 impact in Elkhart County

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 11:17 PM EDT
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With coronavirus cases surpassing the 3,000-mark, Elkhart County healthcare and business leaders welcome the new face mask order that requires people to wear coverings when they cannot maintain social distancing.

On the Tuesday video call, they discussed the state of the economy and healthcare in the county as they try to trim the infection rate.

Randy Christophanel, the CEO of Goshen Health, shed light on the Indiana State Department of Health having to intervene at an Optum-run testing site in the city as a result of an incidence of alleged racism.

"One of [the Optum employees] was actually calling and reporting certain Latino groups to immigration, just based on, frankly, a racist view of several people getting out of a car. It's very unfortunate," said Christophanel. "Once that was found out by Mayor Jeremy [Stutsman] and the Indiana State Board of Health, they closed that site immediately the next day when they found out about it, and it's been re-established with different people staffed by -- not by Optum -- by the state."

Christophanel said the site has been relocated to the parking lot near Kroger located on the west side of Goshen.

Dr. Michelle Bache, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Elkhart General Hospital, which is a part of Beacon Health System, said they are looking to deploy their mobile coronavirus testing units to populations that have seen more cases, such as the Amish and Latino communities.

Carl Risk, CEO of Beacon Health System, said his facilities have enough hospital beds but like the rest of country are facing a growing need for intensive care nurses.

Christophanel said Goshen Health may need to transfer patients; the ICU is nearly full, but there is enough room in the COVID-19 units that are interspersed throughout the hospital.

Nick Kieffer, the CEO of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce, said he welcomes the face mask order as do other employers. Additionally, he said businesses are finding they need to be continually flexible, given the social constraints of the pandemic.

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