‘Don’t let yourself or someone you love be the next victim of COVID-19,’ Nevada hospital pleads for community to get vaccinated

Coronavirus

Leaders at 75-bed facility pen letter as conditions worsen

A patient at a hospital. (NEXSTAR)

ELKO, Nev. (KLAS) — Leaders at a Northern Nevada hospital are pleading with neighbors to get vaccinated as they say they are now being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Northeastern Nevada Regional, Elko County’s only hospital, is a 75-bed facility. Elko County’s population is roughly 53,000 people.

“We have reached a critical moment in our battle against COVID-19,” staff wrote in a letter Tuesday. “The Delta variant has torn through our community, our hospital and our state’s healthcare system with a vengeance. The patients currently being admitted to our hospital with COVID-19 are both the youngest and the sickest we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. It is heartbreaking, frustrating and exhausting — but above all, it is preventable. So, today we are pleading with you to do just one thing: get vaccinated.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Elko County has reported more than 5,600 COVID cases, state data reported. Its 14-day moving average was listed as 11 on Tuesday.

The county has reported 69 COVID-19 deaths and had a moving average of no new deaths over the past two weeks, data state reported. The test positivity rate in Elko County on Tuesday was 22.4%.

Nevada reported the highest number of COVID-19 deaths since early February on Tuesday, posting 46 deaths in data released today. Clark County, home to Las Vegas, reported 38 of those deaths.

Barely 35% of Elko County residents eligible for the vaccine, meaning they are 12 and older, had been vaccinated with at least one dose as of the letter’s publication, state data showed. About a quarter of the county is fully vaccinated.

“The burden this low vaccination rate has put on our system is unsustainable,” hospital leaders wrote. “In fact, the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients admitted to our hospital has increased exponentially since August 1. Most of these acutely sick individuals are under the age of 50 and all of them are unvaccinated.”

“We are doing everything we can to manage the rapid increase in patients while also continuing to care for the ongoing, non-COVID-19 healthcare needs of our community,” hospital leaders said. “Despite these efforts, our system is strained and our people are tired.”

The Nevada Hospital Association does not report a so-called overwhelmed infrastructure in Northern Nevada.

“In the northern region, all-hazard hospital occupancy rates have been elevated to watch status as a result of high occupancies when compared to staffed beds,” its latest report reads. “Additionally, hospitals in the region are reporting having some difficulties transferring patients for a higher level of care. The percentage of patients in the hospital with COVID-19 has also been elevated to watch status based on multiple weeks of increasing patient counts, albeit currently, COVID-19 patients are not overwhelming the hospital infrastructure.”

The letter is signed Steve Simpson, Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Paton Whimple, Chief of Medical Staff; Alice Allen, Chief Nursing Officer.

“On behalf of our healthcare heroes at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital, we implore our community to act now,” the letter said. “We need you, just like you need us. Please sign up to be vaccinated today, and don’t let yourself or someone you love be the next victim of COVID-19.”

Read the entire letter:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We have reached a critical moment in our battle against COVID-19. The Delta variant has torn through our community, our hospital and our state’s healthcare system with a vengeance. The patients currently being admitted to our hospital with COVID-19 are both the youngest and the sickest we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. It is heartbreaking, frustrating and exhausting – but above all, it is preventable. So, today we are pleading with you to do just one thingget vaccinated.

Nevada has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, with a mere 47 percent of the population fully vaccinated. And our community’s 26 percent vaccination rate is even lower than the state average. The burden this low vaccination rate has put on our system is unsustainable. In fact, the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients admitted to our hospital has increased exponentially since August 1. Most of these acutely sick individuals are under the age of 50 and all of them are unvaccinated.

We are doing everything we can to manage the rapid increase in patients while also continuing to care for the ongoing, non-COVID-19 healthcare needs of our community. Despite these efforts, our system is strained and our people are tired.

The hardest part of what we’re facing right now is knowing this is avoidable, and that, with your help, we could turn the tide against COVID-19. First and foremost, getting vaccinated greatly reduces the likelihood of someone contracting the virus, being hospitalized or dying. If you are on the fence about getting vaccinated, please call your physician to talk about the vaccine. More than 95 percent of all physicians are vaccinated because they know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and we expect the approval of other vaccines will soon follow.

Each vaccine administered is a hospital bed saved for someone having a heart attack, stroke or other potentially life-threatening illness. Additionally, we strongly encourage our community to take the precautions we know are effective in slowing the spread of the virus, including wearing a mask (especially if unvaccinated), physical distancing and continuing to practice proper hand hygiene. When all these measures are consistently practiced, they will help lower the transmission rate and reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in our community.

Even amid this public health crisis, we strongly urge our community not to delay essential and emergency care. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1 or head to the ER. If your condition is less severe and not life-threatening, please consider seeking care and treatment at an urgent care clinic or your primary care provider’s office so ER staff can focus on the most critical needs.

We long for the day when this pandemic is behind us. But the only way we will get there is if we all do our part to protect ourselves – most importantly, by getting the vaccine. Vaccination is the primary way we will avoid further overwhelming the healthcare system here at home, in our region and across the state.

On behalf of our healthcare heroes at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital, we implore our community to act now. We need you, just like you need us. Please sign up to be vaccinated today, and don’t let yourself or someone you love be the next victim of COVID-19.

Sincerely,

Steve Simpson
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Paton Whimple
Chief of Medical Staff

Alice Allen
Chief Nursing Officer

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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