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Rhonda Silence

An update on COVID-19 protocols and personnel at North Shore Health

North Shore Health had a board meeting Thursday, June 17. After the meeting, WTIP’s Rhonda Silence checked in with Hospital Administrator Kimber Wraalstad to learn about activities at the hospital and care center, including an update on the COVID-19 visitation policies at the facility.

North Shore Health has been diligent about its COVID-19 protocols, especially in the North Shore Living care center. Wraalstad has been pleased to report that the facility has had only one positive coronavirus test at the care center.

That case in May resulted in some increased restrictions on visitations for care center residents, but on June 21, Wraalstad told WTIP that things are being slowly opened up again. Essential caregivers–friends or family members who have taken training and agree to wear the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE)–are once again allowed to visit their loved ones. In fact, Wraalstad said, once in the resident’s room, these caregivers can take off their masks and goggles. Care center residents in the two households, dubbed “Waves” and “Woods,” which have been separated for over a year, can once again visit one another.

Wraalstad said she hopes this continues, as the hospital and care center knows how important social interaction is for residents.
She also reminds the public that COVID-19 protocols are still in place. Visitors to the hospital for any reason must enter by the main entrance and be screened and masks are required inside the facility.

WTIP asked Wraalstad about some personnel changes at the medical facility. Andy Andrews, hospital director of nursing, resigned to take another job near family, and Amy James, resident care manager at North Shore Living, has announced that she will be retiring in July.

Wraalstad said the hospital has advertised for the hospital director of nursing position, but for now, Carolyn Olson is filling that role as interim director of nursing.

In the care center, RN Angie Works will be taking the resident care manager position. Works has worked in a number of positions at the hospital while obtaining her nursing degree.

The care center had visits from federal inspectors during the week of May 24. After the inspection, surveyors share a “Statement of Deficiencies” with the medical facility. Wraalstad said that report has not been received, but she noted that it is not uncommon to have some items that call for correction, such as policy updates. She was confident that there would be only minor findings from the visit. WTIP will follow up with North Shore Health when the report becomes available.

The hospital board heard an update on the hospital’s Sexual Assault Response Program. Interim Director of Nursing Carolyn Olson gave the presentation. She is a certified sexual assault examiner and has made some suggestions on how the hospital can be better prepared for such cases.

As always, Administrator Wraalstad gives updates to the hospital board about legislation that could impact medical facilities. She shared information on an initiative of LeadingAge Minnesota, which is an organization serving senior citizens, regarding “Hero Pay.” LeadingAge proposes a one-time payment to frontline medical personnel in recognition of their consistent hard work during the coronavirus pandemic. Wraalstad said this is something she has contacted Representative Rob Ecklund and Senator Tom Bakk about, expressing support.

Finally, the board received an update on the Serenity Garden being installed between a wing of the hospital and care center. W Labor has been bringing in dirt and it is hoped that planting will begin soon. See a related WTIP story here: North Shore Health Serenity Garden in need of perennials

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence talks about all this with Hospital Administrator Kimber Wraalstad.