Letter to Our Community (7/8/2021)
Things are bad.
We are experiencing a spike in COVID-19 deaths in our community. Six COVID patients have died in our hospital just since July 1.* By comparison, six COVID patients died in all of June, and only one COVID-related death occurred in May.
And, they are about to get worse.
The state health department in coordination with the CDC issued a COVID Hotspot Advisory yesterday saying it expects a surge in the Lake of the Ozarks area. According to the advisory, “forecasted rates in Miller, Morgan and Camden counties could be 3 or more times higher in the coming weeks” due to low vaccination rates. Laclede and Pulaski counties are also noted as high transmission areas by the CDC. Therefore, we have every reason to expect the same viral growth in those communities.
This advisory comes on the heels of surging cases and hospitalizations in Southwest Missouri, attributed to the Delta variant. Health experts say the Delta variant appears to spread more easily and poses a higher risk of hospitalization than prior strains. In Springfield, hospitals also report treating younger patients than in previous waves.
At Lake Regional, we are already stretched to the limit. Our hospital is very near capacity, and we are seeing exceptionally high numbers of Emergency Department patients daily. Our care teams are working harder than ever before as COVID strains our facility, already busy with summer visitors and routine patient care.
I’m so proud of the courageous work our doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists are doing, as well as all those who are behind the scenes supporting them. But, I worry about the toll all of this is taking on our employees, both physically and mentally. They are exhausted, and no end is in sight.
I’m also very worried about the decisions we will face if COVID cases surge, as expected. Hospitals all around us are filling up, too. That means none of us have a safety valve. Like Springfield hospitals, we’ll be forced to look outside mid-Missouri for help.
Please, roll up your sleeves.
To be completely blunt: We need you to get vaccinated now. If you haven’t already, please roll up your sleeve. Do it to protect yourself, your family and this community.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe, free and readily available. Most importantly, they are the best protection against hospitalization and death.
According to a recent Fox News report, the CDC found over the past six months “99.5% of people who died of COVID-19 were unvaccinated.”
Lake Regional Health System offers weekday vaccination appointments at its seven primary care locations. You do not have to be an established patient to schedule a free vaccination. County health departments, Central Ozarks Medical Center and the area’s retail pharmacies also offer COVID-19 vaccinations.
To learn more about the vaccine’s efficacy or safety, please visit lakeregional.com/vaccine.
Let’s move forward together.
Our Commitment Runs Deep,
Dane W. Henry, FACHE
CEO, Lake Regional Health System
*Lake Regional has admitted 18 COVID-positive patients since July 1. Sixty-one COVID-positive patients were admitted in June. COVID inpatient stays are often lengthy and may extend across one or more months. So far in July, Lake Regional has averaged 21 COVID-positive inpatients daily, or 25% of our total inpatient census.