Hospital Corner – April, 2021

Hospital Corner – April, 2021

Everything returns to normal May 1st—right?  That’s when our governor says each county can decide to fully reopen if they wish, so pandemic is over! Not so fast. The reality is that as long as county vaccination rate remains under 35%, new COVID-19 variants keep popping up, and mask-wearing remains optional for most, then look for our local positivity rate to spike on a regular basis. We may have zero cases one week, then six positives the next (as was the case earlier this month). And, as you may have heard, children are becoming more susceptible to the coronavirus these days—which is troubling as we are weeks (if not longer) from approval of vaccines for use in those 15 and younger.  FYI: the hospital and school district are now surveying interest among 16- and 17-year olds for Pfizer shot; if your teenager is that age, we encourage you to let us know ASAP so we can get them vaccinated.

Lots of data have been collected the past few months on vaccine hesitancy; i.e., why folks don’t want it.  Usual reasons: worried about side effects, doubts about efficacy, and general confusion due to misinformation spread on social media (same disreputable sources that claim MMR shots cause autism).  Education levels and vaccination history play role too (if you generally get a flu shot every year, then you probably received a COVID shot).  For those who like to travel, look for vaccine entry requirements in one form or another, depending on your destination. For an example, Google “Hawaii visitor restrictions.”

As much as we all want life to get back to normal, not happening anytime soon—if ever.  Sure, things may look the same if your major travel destination is the Fallon Wal-Mart, but if you choose to venture farther, expect to provide proof of vaccination, or at the very least, a very recent COVID negative result from an approved test site. My hope is to appeal to you in any manner possible in order to increase our local vaccination rate, protect children, and (fingers crossed) enable schools to fully reopen this fall.

Hospital staff vaccination rates have finally surpassed 50%.  Recent pause in administration of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine hasn’t helped our progress, as this quickly became popular among staff and locals over the past month.  By the time you read this, J&J should be available again to those 18 and older.  Over the next month, Mineral County residents, ages 16 and up, will have all three emergency use vaccines (depending on their age group): Pfizer for teens noted above, and either Moderna or J&J for adults.  Easy to identify vaccinated MGGH staff, as many proudly wear a colorful labeled wristband. 

In other hospital news, Clinic visitors may have noticed some recent changes.  To streamline the process, outpatients now register directly at their provider’s office (instead of front desk). You no longer are required to call from parking lot before entering Clinic.  Masks of course are still required—and will be for the indefinite future.  We appreciate your compliance with this highly effective means of reducing the spread of cold and flu viruses, as well as a variety of other contagions.

If you are a patient of Dr. Dofeliz, then you know he is leaving us at the end of June. He also has a thriving practice in Reno and can no longer juggle demands of both.  Tremendous loss for Hawthorne; we will miss his kind, gentle manner as well as clinical expertise and leadership (Chief of Staff for the past year).  Fortunately, after a lengthy recruiting and interview process, we hired a highly experienced clinic provider.  James Ruch, PA-C, will be joining our Clinic staff before Dr. Dofeliz leaves; James has more than ten years experience in rural Florida caring for outpatient populations much like here. And yes, he is related to Dr. Sharon Ruch—her brother-in-law. Welcome aboard, James.

Hugh Qualls, Administrator