Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



DR. WILCOX: We need your help

Wilcox letter art.png

Editor's Note: In light of the continued increase of coronavirus cases in our community, Dr. David Wilcox, the vice president medical officer for Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota and a practicing family medicine physician of more than 30 years, has submitted a letter to the community with up to date information and tips on helping slow the spread of the virus.

For the past nine months, all of us have been working tirelessly to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and region. Unfortunately, exposures, positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise both across our state and here in our community.

Nowadays, I often think about something my colleague, Dr. Rami Abdelfattah, a physician caring for patients in our ICU, shared with me earlier this fall, “I remember in June walking through the COVID Special Care Unit on my way to the ICU praying that we would never need to open it. Now all of those rooms are filled, and we had to open the remodeled Acute Rehab Gym to accommodate nine more beds.”

Since then, the beds in the gym have long since been occupied. We converted the unit’s dining space into additional beds, all of our Intensive Care Unit’s beds have been transformed into negative air pressure rooms and our Observation Unit and Cardiovascular Recovery Unit have been repurposed as additional ICU beds. With each conversion/addition, our care teams grow more concerned with how quickly these became occupied and how soon we must transform another non-traditional care area into much-needed beds.

In September, we had 13 inpatients and four ICU patients admitted for COVID-19. This more than quadrupled in October with 73 inpatients and 22 ICU patients admitted. Now only two weeks into November, we are on track to far surpass these volumes. This is even more worrisome as people plan to gather for the holidays in the next couple weeks -- the sort of gatherings that have caused local spikes even before widespread COVID-19 transmission in our community.


We have now reached a very serious time in this pandemic. As caregivers, we will continue doing all we can to keep you safe and provide you with care close to home adjusting our staffing, beds and capacity for the next phases of our surge plan, should we require them. But, we cannot do this alone. It is more important than ever that we work together to not overwhelm our local health system.

I ask you to:

Please, take this seriously and step up your preventative measures at home with family and friends. Wash your hands, wear your mask, keep your distance and do everything you can to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. This will be especially important when planning how to celebrate with our loved ones over the holidays -- reduce the size and travel required for gatherings, consider virtual connections.

Don’t put off care for your chronic conditions, acute concerns and preventive health needs. Connect with us however you are comfortable -- in-person, by video visit or telephone.

By practicing preventative care and coming in earlier with a health concern, patients are more likely to prevent serious illness, spend less time in the hospital and reduce their chances of contracting other illnesses, like COVID-19, while their immune system may be compromised.

Please, know we understand masks are uncomfortable. Washing your hands all the time can seem tedious. Missing important milestones and family gatherings is heartbreaking. But, I ask that we please put aside our own discomfort for the safety and well-being of those we care for and care about. This is about protecting our most vulnerable loved ones from, not just getting sick, but from ending up in the hospital, requiring a ventilator to breathe, developing long-term health problems or even possibly dying from this preventable illness.

You aren’t just our patients. You’re our neighbors, friends and family.

This is our home, and we can, with your help, get through this together.


Dr. David Wilcox is the vice president medical officer for Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota and a practicing family medicine physician of more than 30 years.

What To Read Next
Get Local