Hospital CEO encourages use of cloth masks, social distancing

OKEECHOBEE — Raulerson Hospital CEO Brian Melear spoke at the July 9 meeting of the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners “in support of increased mask utilization in areas where social distancing cannot be maintained.”

He said he is in contact with physician representatives from all over the state and they are all concerned about the recent increase in cases of COVID-19, and shortages in testing materials, tests, personal protection equipment (PPE), staffing and even convalescent plasma.

“These shortages have been exacerbated by the substantial increase in COVID,” he said.

Melear said masking creates a barrier to the droplets that leave your mouth and nose. These droplets are a primary way the virus is spread, he explained.

Masking helps prevent the spread of the virus in places where social distancing —– staying at least 6 feet away from others — is not possible.

Melear said Raulerson Hospital is currently at Level 3 lockdown. No visitors are allowed unless it is an end of life issue or other special circumstances. He said hospital staff has increased use of PPE including full face shields for the first-line health care providers. Currently, all patients admitted to the hospital for any reason are tested for COVID-19. Testing of staff has increased.

“We are trying to stem the tide of the increase in cases,” he explained.

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