Hospital Corner – January, 2021
It may be a new year but still feels like 2020; guess that’s why this month is named after a Roman god with two faces—one looking ahead, the other to the past. January seems much like the prior ten miserable months. Many of us won’t celebrate a new year until this pandemic is behind us. Lots of ifs involved but if most of us get vaccinated, if most of us continue to wear a mask in public, and if there aren’t any surprises in coming months (no vaccine-resistant COVID strains), then summer 2021 could be our reward. We can do this.
Speaking of vaccination, if there were an award for meeting a community challenge and persevering, then Wanda Nixon RN deserves a medal (with oak leaf clusters) for her leadership during this crisis. Whether coordinating drive-thru testing events or vaccination pods, her focus and determination have made a difference. Don’t believe me? Per capita, Mineral County is far ahead of other rural Nevada counties in regards to vaccination rates. That didn’t happen by accident. Special thanks as well to PA Laura Millsap, Mt. Grant Clinic provider and our new public health officer, MGGH Acute Director of Nursing Tamiya Ferguson, Risk Manager/RN Norie Chan and Safety Officer/LPN Carol Lemieux for injecting vaccine into several hundred arms in recent weeks. In addition to their immunizing efforts, an equal task for all has been contending with various state agencies and their required documentation/reporting. Much more to do but we are off to a great start. And in case you haven’t heard, our local Safeway pharmacy is now administering COVID vaccine; contact them for details.
When can I visit my grandmother? Questions like this are common these days; no surprise as our skilled nursing facility has been locked down since March. After the virus outbreak in late November, we pushed back re-opening our long-term care unit to family and visitors; it is a priority but only when safe to do so. Most of our residents and about half of our staff have been vaccinated; many others have been exposed to the virus and recovered, so we are getting closer to allowing limited visitations—hopeful for February but stay tuned for an announcement to confirm.
The “new normal” is a term I dislike but it does capture the starkly different reality of the past year. Here is a scenario that should never be considered normal: an elderly symptomatic COVID patient was admitted recently. The family drove 800 miles to be near, only to discover that the closest they could get was peering through a window, watching their loved one struggle to breathe. Some claim this pandemic has been blown out of proportion (400,000 Americans might disagree). Hope the new normal doesn’t mean the elderly and their families must pay the price for a lack of compassion by others. For the record, in a normal year, flu and colds claim about 50,000 lives.
A final sad announcement. The rumors are true: Dr. Ventura will be ending his practice here in February. After more than 15 years at Mt. Grant, he is leaving us. Time for a long vacation, a little taste of retirement perhaps, who knows what—he certainly deserves it. I first realized just how valuable he is to the community while having dinner with him one night at Maggie’s years ago. We barely had time to sit and order when one visitor after another stopped by our table; he was clearly adored by his patients. Not sure either of us ate much. He was too busy exchanging pleasantries, while I sat astonished by the public displays of endearment. His years of devotion to patients, a loyal and dedicated staff, and the significant contributions to this hospital’s success during his tenure are the hallmarks of a legacy that can’t be replicated. No matter where he travels, Dr. Ventura will always be with us in our hearts.
Hugh Qualls, Administrator