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Letter to Our Community (6/30/21)

We’re not out of the woods yet. Today, Lake Regional hit a milestone I’d hoped we’d never see again. Our COVID-positive inpatient census has climbed to 24, including seven patients on ventilators.

Please let that sink in … among our inpatient census, one in three patients is COVID-positive. About one-third of those patients require assistance to breathe.

Watching the Trends

The numbers began moving in the wrong direction about a week after Memorial Day. Between June 9 and June 25, we experienced 7 COVID-related deaths as our COVID-positive inpatient census gradually climbed to double-digits.

And although experience tells us our Emergency Department will be busy during summer months, this month has far exceeded expectations. Since June 1, we have treated 3,414 emergency patients, with one in 10 visits being COVID-related. For comparison, we treated 2,797 emergency patients during June 2019.

These trends are worrisome, so is this fact: COVID patients hospitalized this month are younger than those affected during previous spikes. We are seeing more people in their 20s to 50s.

This is not a subjective opinion. These are simple facts we are confronting here and now.

News reports from our regional neighbors in southwest Missouri indicate the same trend. Health leaders there believe the Delta variant, known to spread quickly, may be responsible for many of the new cases.

According to the Springfield News-Leader, CoxHealth President and CEO Steve Edwards said those affected at Cox Hospital are younger and many were previously healthy with no serious underlying conditions. CoxHealth reported 105 COVID-positive inpatients on June 25.

Next Steps

The most discouraging part about all of this is: It’s preventable. COVID-19 vaccines are free, safe and readily available. Most importantly, they are the best protection against hospitalization and death.

A report released today by the Associated Press reviewed CDC data from May 2021. The AP found breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for only 1.1% of COVID-19 hospitalizations nationwide. Further, only 0.8% of COVID-19 deaths were fully vaccinated people.

If you’re not yet vaccinated, please take action now to protect yourself and your loved ones. Make an appointment today at one of Lake Regional’s seven primary care locations, your local health department, Central Ozarks Medical Center or one of the area’s retail pharmacies.

If you have questions about the vaccine’s efficacy or safety, visit us at lakeregional.com/vaccine.

If you’ve already been vaccinated, thank you for doing your part. Now, please encourage your neighbors and friends to schedule appointments. For the safety of your family and our dedicated medical staff, we hope you will do what it takes to protect our community.

Let’s move forward together.

Our Commitment Runs Deep,

Dane W. Henry, FACHE

CEO, Lake Regional Health System