Area organizations urge ’wise choices’

Chad Frey
Val Gleason, president and CEO of Newton Medical Center, announces the "Your Choices Matter. Choose Wisely" campaign. The campaign will last through at least the next three holidays.

As the holidays near and cases of COVID-19 spike throughout Harvey County, 20 local frontline organizations including healthcare providers, government agencies, schools, and first responders are joining forces to spread the word about “making wise choices for community health safety.”

“This collaboration, once again, demonstrates what is amazing about our communities,” said Val Gleason, president and CEO of Newton Medical Center. “... We partners wanted to unite to encourage our community.”

Headed by Newton Medical Center and the Harvey County Health Department, the group will officially launched its campaign Your Choices Matter. Choose Wisely Nov. 20.

“Our volume of COVID-19 cases has increased 10-fold over the past few weeks,” “We are averaging between 40 to 50 percent of our patients being positive for COVID-19.”

The hospital has created additional rooms for the treatment of COVID-19 within the hospital and is treating about 40 patients for COVID-19. The hospital is a 133 bed hospital.

Thus far the effort has centered around pamphlets, posters and a social media campaign.

At a minimum the campaign will run through New Year’s.

“These are key times for gatherings in our communities,” Gleason said. “ ... We are pleading with the community to make wise decisions.”

Those decisions include wearing a facial covering when around other people, washing hands often, social distancing whenever possible, clean touch surfaces and staying home when not feeling well.

For suspected exposures, getting tested and staying home.

“We wanted to provide a singular voice to encourage our community,” said Lynette Redington, director of the Harvey County Health Department. “We do not want to close schools. We don’ want neighbors, family members and loved ones to get sick. We don’t want to go back to stay at home orders.”

Organizations part of the effort include Asbury Park, Bethel College, Bluestem Communities, Cardiovascular Care, the city of Hesston, the city of Newton, the city of North Newton, Cottonwood Pediatrics, Halstead USD 440, the Harvey County Commission, the Harvey County Health Department, the Harvey County Medical Society, Health Ministries Clinic, Hesston College, Hesston Fire/EMS, Mirror Inc., Newton Fire/EMS, Newton Medical Center, Newton Police Department and Newton USD 373.