Letter to Our Community (7/23/2021)
Please consult your doctor, not the comments section.
You may have seen recent discussions on social media related to Lake Regional’s care of COVID-19 patients. Although our duty to protect our patients’ privacy prevents us from commenting online, we want our community to know the following.
Our care teams are giving all we have to our patients, but this virus is a formidable opponent.
The patients in the current wave of COVID admissions are sicker and declining more quickly than those in previous waves. They are also younger. About half of the COVID-positive patients we’ve admitted this month are younger than 59. Seventy-five percent are 69 or younger.
This is a virus. There is no cure — only avoidance through vaccination and preventive measures. Treatments are limited and marginally effective. We can address the symptoms and support the patients, but their bodies have to do the hard work of overcoming breathing difficulties, blood pressure drops and eventually failure of the lungs and other organs.
Sometimes all we can do is provide comfort measures. That may be difficult for families to accept, especially when the patients are middle-aged or younger, but it’s the sad reality.
Today is July 23. We have experienced 22 COVID-related deaths in the past 23 days. That’s 22 grieving families who have looked to our team for answers and support, a heartbreaking burden for our caregivers who have dedicated their lives to healing.
Lake Regional’s Ethics Committee met this week to discuss our approach to COVID care, specifically the treatments available to patients at the end of their life. Their determinations are outlined below.
- Our doctors will make clinical decisions based on scientific evidence and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.
- Lake Regional will provide treatments approved or authorized by the FDA or recommended by the CDC or NIH.
- Lake Regional will not administer pharmaceuticals or therapeutics that have not been proven to benefit hospitalized patients. Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine fall into this category.
The physicians serving on this committee are some of the best and most caring we have had the pleasure to work with in our careers. We are blessed that they choose to call the Lake of the Ozarks home because, undoubtedly, they are top performers who would be welcomed by any hospital nationwide. They have the full support of our hospital’s leadership; we hope our community will reach out and support them, as well.
As we carry on, remember that we have more wins than losses in this fight. We’ve talked a lot about COVID-related deaths recently because the Delta variant is claiming lives at a higher rate than previous variants. But that doesn’t change the fact that we’ve helped more than 425 hospitalized patients overcome this illness. And, our Emergency Department and clinics have helped countless more patients, who had less severe infections, regain their health.
Vaccines remain our most powerful weapon in this fight. And we urge you to talk to your physician if you have any questions about their safety or efficacy. Otherwise, they are readily available at any of our seven primary care locations, area health departments, Central Ozarks Medical Center and local pharmacies. Just choose the location that’s most convenient for you.
As the leading health care provider in the region, we’re here to serve everyone who needs us. It’s our calling. And while we will always be here to help, we hope everyone will do what it takes to protect themselves and get vaccinated.
Our Commitment Runs Deep,
Josh Brickner, D.O.
Chief of Staff
Harbaksh Sangha, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Dane W. Henry, FACHE
Chief Executive Officer