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Safety at the cost of social separation

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  • Written By: Dr. Phil McMahill
Safety at the cost of social separation

We always hope for the best, sometimes to the point of ignoring the truth.

When COVID-19 was first reported in China, most were not concerned. When it reached the United States at first, many said it couldn’t be worse than the yearly flu. When the first COVID-19 fatality was reported in Campbell County, Wyoming, some said the patient likely died of complications to something else—after all, she was in her 60s.

Can this mask they want you to wear really save lives? Are the repeat nasal swabs, gloves, gowns, N95’s, face shields, social distancing, visitor restriction, cancelled appointments, lock-downs, quarantining, canceling football, and endless changes really necessary?

Unfortunately, we tend to not appreciate the importance of any of it until it affects us directly.

Any of us could be the asymptomatic super spreader of COVID-19, spreading the disease to multiple individuals, without knowing it. We may not look at the wearing of a mask as protecting our mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, children, grandchildren, friends, colleagues, and other human beings we come in contact with every day, until they die.

Then we understand.

As of August 15, 2020, there have been 21,448,457 cases of COVID-19 recorded in the world with 765,180 deaths. In the United States, there have been 5,489,079 cases recorded with 171,867 deaths. The population of United States is 328 million, 5% of the world population of 7.5 billion. Yet the United States is responsible for 25% of the COVID-19 cases and deaths. We have a huge problem. A large part of our population is not following the recommendations needed to stop the virus. COVID-19 is not seasonal as many of us had hoped. It thrives in winter and summer. It may never go away like the measles, polio, etc.; without a vaccine.

For now, we need to be proactive with COVID-19. Fortunately, The Legacy Living and Rehabilitation Center has been. We have protected our residents, but at the high cost of social separation.

Some of the health maintenance services regarding vision or dental have been put on hold for the most part except in emergency situations. As caregivers, we weigh the risk versus benefit of every appointment or procedure, we have to realize the playing field has changed.

In reality, we are protecting the residents from a greater threat. Historically, it only takes one resident to acquire COVID-19 in an extended care facility to soon develop into multiple cases. We experienced this ourselves with the flu epidemic in the past. COVID-19 is not only potentially lethal, but can also lead to chronic diseases in some patients as we have found with more experience with this virus.

I appreciate all the hard work that the staff and providers at The Legacy have done to keep our residents safe.

I understand that some of our resident’s family members, or even people in our community, may not agree with all the rules and regulations that have been adopted at The Legacy through this pandemic. I know that we expected a surge of cases a number of months ago that did not occur. But, now they are occurring. The number of cases in Wyoming is significantly increasing. This will unfortunately be followed by an increase in the number of deaths.

I pray that the The Legacy is not a part of those statistics. I pray for all of you and for all the residents, that we find strength, love, and understanding together in our family, The Legacy.

Dr. Phil McMahill is the medical director at The Legacy Living and Rehabilitation Center in Gillette, Wyoming. The Legacy offers both long term care and short term rehabilitation. To learn more, visit

  • Category: The Legacy Living and Rehabilitation Center