Background Photo Provided by the
Nebraska Tourism Commission
Offical Nebraska Government Website
Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts Highlights the Great Work of Nebraska’s Hospitals to Care for Patients during the Pandemic

Media Contacts: 

Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970

Justin Pinkerman, 402-471-1967


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts Highlights the Great Work of Nebraska’s Hospitals to Care for Patients during the Pandemic


Gov. Ricketts (podium) gives remarks at today’s press briefing.


Gov. Ricketts (podium) gives remarks at today’s press briefing.


Video from today’s briefing is available by clicking here.


LINCOLN – This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts held a press conference at the State Capitol to provide an update on the State’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.  The Governor emphasized the importance of staying committed to good health habits to slow the spread of the virus.  He also thanked Nebraska’s hospitals for their outstanding job caring for patients during 2020.


Mel McNea, CEO of Great Plains Health in North Platte, joined the Governor by video for the briefing.  He talked about the work being done by hospitals to best care for patients.  He also highlighted the cooperation between hospitals to successfully manage the volume of patients needing treatment.


Gov. Ricketts: Three Cs Reminder

  • To slow the spread and limit hospitalizations, we need every Nebraskan to stay committed to good health habits.
  • We’re urging all Nebraskans to avoid the Three Cs:
    • Crowded Places
      • Avoid gathering in groups where you can’t maintain six-feet distance from others.
    • Close Contacts
      • Wear a mask or maintain six-feet distance when you’re with people you don’t live with.
    • Confined Spaces
      • Avoid enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. 
  • Consider postponing holiday parties at work or inviting fewer friends to celebrate at your home.
  • Be thoughtful as you plan family gatherings to protect at-risk loved ones.


Gov. Ricketts: Hospitals

  • Hospitals across Nebraska are doing a great job of caring for patients during this challenging year.
  • Our state’s hospitals are in close communication to help manage capacity to care for Nebraskans in need of treatment.
  • They’re also making use of innovative treatments.
    • Some of these treatments—given in an outpatient setting—can help people who’ve tested positive for the virus avoid hospitalization entirely.
    • Other treatments can reduce the time a patient has to spend in a hospital.
  • Great Plains Health in North Platte has just been named as a “Top Rural Hospital” for the second consecutive year.
    • It’s one of only 19 hospitals nationwide to receive that distinction.  Congratulations to Great Plains Health on the award.


Mel McNea: Hospitals

  • This pandemic continues to challenge the way we deliver care as we gain more knowledge and have a better understanding of how the virus operates.
  • I want to share some of the innovative changes implemented to ensure quality, safe care in our rapidly changing environment.
  • Early in the pandemic, our organization implemented an interdisciplinary approach to clinical care within the facility.
  • We meet daily to discuss every patient within the organization, whether they’re COVID-19 positive or not.
  • That timely communication helps us to remove barriers to care. 
  • Early on, our ER physicians identified the types of patients who could use oxygen in their home to avoid admission to the hospital when beds were scarce.
  • Our care coordinators follow up with those patients to make sure they’re safe and recovering appropriately.
  • Providers with Great Plains Health have also participated in a wide variety of trial and research medication.
    • This includes Aviptadil which reduces length of stay and reduces ventilator usage within our organization.
  • We also had a team a staff facilitating the beginning of monoclonal antibody treatments in nursing homes and outpatient settings.
    • Preliminary results from these treatments are very encouraging.  We’ve seen a decrease in admission and reduction in length of stay for those patients receiving the medication.
  • Staff have also engaged with families and patients to talk about their desired course of care, including end-of-life discussions and the need for palliative care when appropriate.
  • Leadership has worked closely with critical access hospitals in our region to manage the volume of patients needing treatment. 
  • Leadership has also been working collaboratively with nursing homes in our region.  We helped establish a COVID-19 unit within one of the nursing homes.  Residents in other nursing homes who had tested positive were able to be quickly relocated to this unit.  This reduced the risk of exposure for other residents in our region’s nursing homes.
  • Our infectious disease physician has provided consultations with area providers to ensure safe quality of care throughout the region.
  • As patients recover, the new challenge we’re facing is referrals to rehab centers for recovery.
    • Some of these patients have been in bed for 20-25 days or on a ventilator. 
    • Starting Monday, our rehab staff will initiate processes that usually occur in a rehab facility upon admission of patients.  This will reduce the need for rehab transfers.


Video from today’s press conference is available by clicking here.