Leading the health care transformation, updating community health programs and responding to COVID-19 has kept Allina Health busy during the pandemic.

Kelly Spratt, president of Cambridge Medical Center and Buffalo Hospital, both part of Allina Health, gave a status update on Cambridge Medical Center and how the medical center is bettering its health care journey during the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce luncheon held Oct. 20.

“How do we just altogether take better care of the population to keep them healthier and then certainly have services available for when people get sick?” Spratt said.

Spratt said Allina Health is launching an ambitious, transformational initiative to challenge the health care status quo on multiple fronts called “Our Whole Way to Better” that will focus on:

• New ways to deliver and fund care.

• Meeting people where they are.

• Providing seamless, connected care.

• Making care more equitable and inclusive.

One way the clinic has been moving forward is by using a greater amount of telehealth, providing seamless and connected care as numbers have increased with virtual visits.

“When COVID first began, our clinic virtual visits grew to about 50%. Right now in Cambridge we have about 15% or so,” Spratt said. “We have challenges in this market with just broadband and productivity a little bit that you are well aware of, but overall the thought is about 25% or more primary care and follow-up visits in the future will probably end up in that sweet spot of telehealth.”

Spratt provided the total amount of COVID-19 patients treated at Cambridge Medical Center through Oct. 12:

• 3,134 patients tested or diagnosed with COVID-19 treated in the Cambridge hospital, emergency department or clinic.

• 34,568 COVID-19 tests collected at Cambridge Medical Center, Cambridge clinics.

• 525 patients received inpatient care at Cambridge Medical Center.

• More than 6,218 COVID-19 vaccinations administered.

Spratt also provided the total amount of COVID-19 patients treated throughout the entire Allina Health system through Oct. 12:

• 50,472 patients tested or diagnosed with COVID-19 treated in hospitals, emergency departments or clinics.

• 624,183 COVID-19 tests administered by Allina Health.

• 12,862 patients received inpatient care at Allina Health.

• More than 351,682 COVID-19 vaccinations administered by Allina Health.

To improve and assist with the current state of health care, the Allina Health system has created new programs to meet patients’ health care needs by providing home hospital care and telehealth.

Spratt mentioned there are two positive benefits that have come out of the pandemic in health care: “The acceleration of innovation around kind of bringing more advanced medical technology here to Cambridge — that has been the exciting part of this — and the advancement of telehealth services that have been benefited,” Spratt said.

As the pandemic has brought many challenges, it’s clear that one challenge includes the loss of many employees in health care. Spratt said there are roughly 90 positions open amongst the medical center and clinics in Cambridge. Despite the struggles, Spratt mentions how proud of the medical center and clinic staff he is during this time.

“This has been an unbelievable journey, and they have been remarkable in that journey and caring for this community of their working hard and continue to show up every day under really extreme circumstances, and I could not be more proud of them,” Spratt said.

During the luncheon, Rebekah Becker of PrimeLending asked Spratt about the availability of rapid COVID-19 testing.

“When it comes to COVID testing here at Allina, is there no rapid testing? Is it still the three-day testing and why? Why don’t we have rapid testing? The sooner we can find out, the sooner we can tell other people when people have it, so that seems important to me, and I don’t understand why we don’t have it available.” Becker said.

Spratt explained the difference between the rapid testing and three-day testing.

“So the PCR testing, that more three-day testing, is a more accurate test. The saliva tests have significant variation and false negatives. So we believe doing the PCR testing is the most accurate way to do that. We’ve increased our capability at Cambridge to help make those turn-around times faster,” Spratt said.

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