Home health care expert: COVID19 is manageable, and being managed

A home health care company president and RN says FEAR of COVID19 is paralyzing too many people, the CDC needs to step up, and the Governor of Texas should re-open business WITH standard sanitary precautions.

Karie Spell has been in the industry for 25 years and has been the half owner of the gold-standard home health care company Signature Health Services since 2007.

Spell’s company has a staff of more than 70 and sees around 350 patients at any given time. One thing she believes with all her might? That the media has created a “mass hysteria” around COVID19 – and a hysteria that is misplaced. She says the direction provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sorely lacking.

“When the story first broke I became very attentive… and there is another story,” said Spell. She says with hundreds of media outlets churning out thousands of stories on the disease there is a lot of misinformation. “Peripheral noise” as she put it. And she says the climate is NOT helped by people who believe themselves experts because they “googled it.”

Early on, Spell called the Emergency Operations manager at the CDC and asked for guidance. Her nurses and other staff work closely with patients over a 7-county region extending into the Winnie area. She was met with confusion and finally an officer who said, “I’m not really familiar with that.” From a clinical vantage point, Spell was looking for much clearer protocols for how to move forward.

Not a single one of Spell’s nurses has contracted the COVID19 virus, despite seeing hundreds of patients in close proximity daily for months now. And that includes those who worked directly with a patient who tested positive on March 31st. Spell’s professionals had worked with the patient for about a month. In that case, two nurses and a therapist were pulled from circulation and quarantined. Thing is, they had taken standard precautions and DID NOT GET IT.

She credits a tenured staffer who had worked for years at a charity hospital (through tuberculosis scares, AIDS, swine flu and other outbreaks) with the maxim we should have. Go to work every day, pray, follow your best practices and all will be well. The nurse told her of COVID19, “this won’t be any different.”

Spell says America started to think of the virus as an assassin in wait. “COVID19 has become paralyzing because somebody is always in our ear.”

She says conditions then worsened. Borne of that hysteria, people who needed care for a myriad of other illnesses started backing away from the very assistance they needed.

“And we began to get calls from patients who didn’t want care,” she said. “So now you have a sick population who, because of this fear, are eliminating health care workers… fear began to culminate in confusion. It blocked people from making the best choices.”

Spell says “medical” friends all around the country started describing a common theme. Hospitals at half capacity. Administrators who were calling for reduced hours. And “government” still driving a theme that we are all going to see the grisly scene witnessed in some hospitals in New York City.

“We are not New York… when we were at our worst, at a 4 percent death rate, that still means 96 percent are surviving… It’s like anything else. If you’re sick, stay home. Or at risk, don’t go to a crowded place. Wash your hands. Be very vigilant about hygiene,” says Spell.

And, at a time when some observers believe the economy is beginning to flat-line, this medical professional has a message for Texas Governor Greg Abbott. She believes in the prudent re-opening of businesses.

“Give the people the power back. These are our rights. These are our freedoms. You’re fearful? Stay at home, but give people who are well, the ability to go back to work.” 

Spell believes the fallout from the business closings will be far worse than the virus itself. And will create certain prejudices like never before – like how neighbor perceives neighbor. She believes people with the virus are being shunned as though a leper. And she expects lawsuits to be filed as a result.

The Signature Health Services president knows it’s been a rough ride already but told 1813 that American business owners can learn key truths through this generational crisis.

“Be confident. Wash your stuff down. Make sure (your employees) are well when they come back to work. But when we do those things and we continue to rise up – we replace fear with confidence.”

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