Published on June 14, 2022

OH Reaches 90% Normalcy

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer

Owensboro Health Regional Hospital has returned to about 90% of normalcy, Dr. Francis DuFrayne, executive vice president and chief medical officer, said recently. The coronavirus pandemic, which caused the hospital to restrict visitation to one person per patient and keep anyone under 18 from visiting, isn’t over. But the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has dropped to levels that are allowing the hospital to begin to return to normalcy, DuFrayne said.

When the omicron variant hit last year, he said, the COVID-19 floor had 70 patients at one time. These days, it averages two to four patients. A year ago, many of the hospital rooms were sealed off partly because of COVID-19 and partly because there weren’t enough nurses to keep them open.

Today, DeFrayne said, all the rooms are open again. The mask mandate that went into effect two years ago has been partially lifted. DeFrayne said staff members don’t have to wear masks if they’ve been vaccinated unless they are working closely with a patient. “We encourage visitors to wear masks, but they don’t have to,” he said. “We have masks available. And a lot are still wearing them.” Last year, patients were limited to one visitor and that person was the only one who could visit.

Today, DeFrayne said patients can have two visitors at the same time, “and they don’t have to be the same visitors all the time.” Two more can wait in the waiting area and visit when the first two leave. That doesn’t apply to COVID-19 patients, he said. DeFrayne said the current COVID-19 strain is easier to spread, but it doesn’t usually cause as severe an illness as previous strains.

And it doesn’t usually require hospitalization. But DeFrayne said, “There are probably more COVID-19 cases that aren’t being reported because a lot of people are testing at home.” He said the C. Waitman Taylor Jr. Hospitality Suites, which people staying with patients can rent, have been closed during the pandemic. But the hospital is talking about reopening them, DeFrayne said. The lack of large numbers of COVID-19 cases is less draining on the staff and is helping with the return to normalcy, he said.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.