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Nate Blackford

President of Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville

“Is this OK?” is a question I often receive in reference to specific events, activities, gatherings etc. as things begin to reopen. While there is rarely a perfect answer, let me provide a few thoughts.

As our states and communities gradually and carefully return to some sense of normalcy, we will continue to find ourselves in uncertain social situations. As governmental and institutional restrictions are relaxed, the focus has shifted to personal choices, courtesy and societal responsibility. What, at this point, are the realistic best practices in rural Northwest Missouri for maximizing health and minimizing unnecessary risk?

One of the big things this pandemic has taught us is humility. No one has all the answers, and every right choice carries at least a little bit of a trade off or downside. I recently learned of a hospital full of critical patients not because of COVID (although they are treating a few of those), but because patients deferred care for other conditions until they were very, very sick.

Our hospital and clinics continue to modify our practices, limit visitors and add testing to make sure that we help protect everyone from COVID while we maintain our ability to treat a little something called “everything else.” We continue to focus both on excelling today and being ready for whatever comes next.

“What WILL come next?” you might ask. I am concerned that if we let down our guard as positive cases of COVID are increasing in our region, exponential spread could lead to the exact negative effects we’ve worked so hard since mid-March to avoid. COVID can be transmitted by people who aren’t experiencing symptoms. Consideration for others, even among those who feel fine themselves, will be essential to limit the spread and protect our neighbors.

So … “Is this OK?” As I continue to think about that, my mind often goes to one of my favorite things. I am, and always have been, a big sports fan. As I make safety decisions for myself and try to influence my family and others, I keep coming back to the fact that multibillion-dollar sports leagues with incredible financial and testing resources don’t yet think it is safe for their players to play — even in empty stadiums.

As we each decide how to proceed, I truly want us all to continue to do the things we need to do to provide for the health and wellness of our families, friends and ourselves. While doing those things, I hope we wisely consider what things we do now and what things we are better off doing later.

Please continue to look out for each other, take care of yourself, be flexible to change and say thank you to our local leaders and organizations who are working tirelessly in these challenging times.

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