Family, friends and neighbors. When I was in practice decades ago, there were plenty of doctors, nurses and other staff to share the load. It was easy to find a bed for a patient who needed …
Family, friends and neighbors. When I was in practice decades ago, there were plenty of doctors, nurses and other staff to share the load. It was easy to find a bed for a patient who needed one.
The flu season sometimes stressed the healthcare system, but it passed quickly. I usually had some control over my work schedule. There was no pandemic and we didn’t need to summon the National Guard for help. I can’t imagine the anxiety, stress and near burnout experienced today by many of our frontline hospital, emergency room, clinic and public health staff.
This pandemic has plagued us for almost two years now and this Omicron surge in cases and hospitalizations is the worst we have ever seen here and across the country. Our hospital beds are full.
At times almost a quarter of the patients have COVID-19, requiring staff to use full protective gear every time they enter the room. There’s the constant worry of catching and spreading a very infectious virus. Employees who aren’t out on quarantine are stretched almost to the breaking point. There aren’t enough available nursing home and mental health beds for patients who should be transferred, so we “board” them in the Emergency Room.
And especially in a small community like ours, there is the heartbreak of not being able to do enough for a patient, who may also be family, a friend or a neighbor. And yet they continue, day and night, to provide a vital service to our community.
Let’s not be lulled into thinking that because this Omicron variant is “milder” it can’t kill us. It can, especially if you are not fully vaccinated. And the sheer number of cases is almost overwhelming our healthcare and public health systems. I was warned by a fellow board member to not scare folks away who really need care. Essential services are still available and our overworked staff really will be glad you came. Let’s remember that the people who dedicate their lives to helping this community through this pandemic are family, friends and neighbors. They need our thanks and our support.
These views are mine and may not necessarily represent those of others who serve on the Board of Health and the Public Hospital District Board with me, but I think they do.
Dr. Kees Kolff
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