While we all strive to return to normalcy, we cannot ignore what is happening within our nation’s health systems and communities. We frequently find ourselves asking, “How much longer can this pandemic last?”
As COVID numbers and hospitalizations once again surge in our community, Iredell Health System, among other healthcare organizations across the nation, request your help to fight this pandemic so we can return to the sense of pre-pandemic normalcy we’re all desiring.
“It is unbelievable that we have been dealing with this pandemic for almost two full years. We have learned a lot in how to medically manage the diagnosis, but it just seems to keep coming at us in waves,” said John Green, President and CEO of Iredell Health System.
Health systems are currently enduring the third significant wave of COVID. Over the last month, Iredell Memorial Hospital has seen a drastic increase in the number of admitted COVID-19 patients.
“COVID numbers at Iredell Memorial have doubled in the number of admissions from November to December, and the trend suggests that January will be similar or more than December,” said Dr. Joseph Mazzola, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Iredell Health System.
In November, the hospital had 66 patient admissions due to COVID. In December, that number rose to 126. Likewise, the number of ICU COVID patients has also doubled, from an average of four COVID-positive ICU patients in November to an average of eight in December.
Additionally, in the days after Christmas, between December 27 and January 2, Iredell Urgent Care in Mooresville saw a total of 704 patients. Of those patients, 246 tested positive for COVID.
“The rapid growth rate in COVID-19 infections, from the Omicron variant, is a result of increased transmissibility,” said Dr. Vivek Trivedi, Chief of Medical Staff at Iredell Memorial.
The majority of COVID patients admitted at Iredell Memorial are unvaccinated. The percent of unvaccinated hospitalized COVID patients averaged at approximately 76% in the last month.
“In the hospital, we do hear critically sick people with COVID repeat a simple line, ‘I wish I would have gotten vaccinated,’” added Trivedi.
And, as a 247-bed hospital, having 50 COVID patients at a time is understandably overwhelming for staff.
“We have been in a COVID-19 pandemic since March of 2020. Healthcare providers are fatigued and are experiencing significant emotional distress dealing with the roller coaster of surges and patients infected with COVID-19,” said Becky Wagner, Vice President of Nursing and Patient Services at Iredell.
Individuals, families, workplaces, and healthcare organizations throughout the United States are all feeling the strain associated with serious illness and death due to this devastating virus.
“I know that everyone is fatigued by pandemic challenges and all want to wish it away. Healthcare professionals are no different,” said Green.
“The medical staff is strained and overwhelmed with this tremendous surge but will continue to work fearlessly and rigorously day and night to provide the best medical care for all patients,” added Trivedi.
What can the community do to help?
“We are all in this pandemic together, and the only way to normalcy, to prevent severe morbidity and mortality, and to end this pandemic is by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask,” said Trivedi.
According to Trivedi, data from the United States, Europe, and Israel have shown that vaccinated people, who received a booster dose, have stronger protection against the Omicron variant. Conversely, those who are unvaccinated are 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19.
And though there is a possibility you may still contract the virus, studies show COVID vaccines can protect you from severe illness and hospitalization.
“At this time, we plead and request for the community to help us brave and fight this surge by getting vaccinated, with a booster if eligible. This will protect our community from getting critically ill and will prevent hospitalizations,” said Trivedi.
By getting vaccinated, you are saving a hospital bed for someone who may have another life-threatening illness. And overall, by getting vaccinated, you may be saving someone’s life by allowing them to get the care they need within a hospital setting.
“Nurses and physicians, along with every other member of the healthcare team, are doing their part to manage this pandemic,” said Mazzola. “But, it is also up to our community to do their part in helping fight this virus by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and social distancing.”
“We need our entire community to assist and think about what part they can play to support the rest of their friends and neighbors. It will take all of us looking outside of ourselves to the community’s needs to get to that point,” Green said. “Your support of our staff through vaccinating, masking, following safety practices, and prayer is asked for and graciously accepted.”