Hospital Corner – September, 2021
A crisis of conscience is typically defined as a “situation wherein people will have to choose between their inner morals and their duty or responsibility. This crisis is especially prevalent among honest and upright public servants.” I thought about this quite a bit after recent county commissioners meetings; we all experience such a crisis at some point in our lives but state and local officials often face these situations on a regular basis. Enter COVID-19! The conflict between what you personally believe and what you must do is now center stage, with a vast audience assembled and armed with rotten tomatoes in the form of verbal and social media vitriol. If it were a motion picture, you probably know how it ends—but we’re not at the movies. This is our community. We ultimately will write the final act of this drama.
Mineral County is at an inflection point; decisive action taken now could quickly alter our current trajectory of COVID cases. Hence the crisis of conscience faced by our local leaders. Do they go with science and facts—or attempt to appease a loud and belligerent minority of the public? I say minority as consistent national polling indicates most Americans favor mask requirements and vaccination. Even in libertarian rural Nevada, I am willing to wager that 51% or more support it as well. Why? Because despite fake news and well-funded misinformation that abounds on multiple social media platforms, the facts speak for themselves. Hospitalized COVID patients are almost always the unvaccinated. The incident rate for flu last winter was the lowest on record (masks stop viruses). Vaccinated folks can catch the virus but rarely get seriously ill. You can choose to ignore or doubt such facts but you are only fooling yourself—and putting your family and your community at risk.
Being a leader is never easy. Always loved the quote attributed to Steve Jobs: “If you want to make everyone happy, don’t be a leader, sell ice cream.” Most leaders learn that quickly—or they learn it the hard way. My focus here is not just our commissioners, but every leader (whether public, business or community) in the county. Tough decisions must be made now in order to end this crisis over the next 6-12 months. As I wrote here more than a year ago, do it for grandma.
On a somewhat related topic, an ugly incident occurred recently in our clinic. A patient and their spouse met with a provider and demanded she write a COVID-19 vaccination exemption, due to a physical condition that does not qualify for such an exemption. Our provider was intimidated but stood her ground and refused to comply with such an unethical request. I apologized to the provider that evening, on behalf of the hospital and our community, because we are better than that. I get it: you are diametrically opposed to the vaccine—but that does not entitle you to badger a medical provider to get what you want. We witnessed similar attempts like this during height of the opioid crisis, which in the end proved counter-productive to patient health. Zero tolerance for this.
Dr. von Feldmann has provided gastroenterology services at the hospital for the past several years. Many of us have benefitted from his knowledge, training and expertise. None of us look forward to these diagnostic procedures but we are ever grateful when it is over and receive good news. Regret to announce that Dr. von Feldmann is leaving us this month and wish him the best. We welcome Dr. Stephen Miller, who will be providing endoscopy services at MGGH beginning in October.
Congrats to hospital golf teams; First and Third places at annual NRHP Tournament. Winners for third year in a row!
Cold & flu season is back. Get your flu shot, wear a mask in crowded public areas, and wash your hands often. Stay safe and healthy everyone.
Hugh Qualls, Administrator