Emergency medical service and hospital officials are encouraging community members to avoid the ICU for COVID-19, as beds are full.

Wapakoneta Fire Department Captain Eric Snapp confirmed local squad members have seen an increase in ambulance calls for trouble breathing. He suggested people call their family doctor or visit urgent care; however, if you do plan to seek treatment and have symptoms call ahead.

At Joint Township District Memorial Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Lana Hinders also wants people to call their doctor if they feel like they have an influenza-like illness. And Hinders said vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19.

“Adults not previously vaccinated are strongly encouraged to complete a primary series. Those previously vaccinated should speak to their physician about obtaining booster doses,” Hinders said. “Patients who are concerned regarding influenza-like illness and feel they need to be seen by a provider, should call their primary care physician before coming to the emergency department.”

Patients who do not have a provider, can make use of Grand Lake Health System’s Call A Nurse program. To speak to a registered nurse, call 1-888-910-3335. The Grand Lake Health System also offers tele-medicine for both primary care and urgent care visits for patient convenience. Patients may access a telemedicine visit by contacting their primary care provider or arranging for a virtual urgent care visit through the hospital website at

To read the full story, pick up a print copy of Tuesday's edition of The Evening Leader.

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