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COVID vaccines expected next week

Chief Nursing Officer April Dukes said the first COVID-19 vaccine could arrive at Crisp Regional Hospital as early as next week.

 

By Neil B. McGahee

Managing Editor

Although COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the tri-county area, Crisp Regional Hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer April Dukes said the first vaccines may be only a week away from delivery.

“We expect to receive the Moderna vaccine sometime next week,” Dukes said. “We don’t know how many doses we will get but we turned in the number of doses we need. The priority recipients will be health care workers, nursing home patients and patients with co-morbidities that may have a poor outcome if they contract the virus.”

When the coronavirus pandemic began early in 2020, experts wondered if there would be surges such as those seen in other virus pandemics.

That overall pattern has proven true so far as increasing cases of COVID-19 surged in the summer followed by an even larger one in the fall. Some locations that saw a high number of infections early on are now facing a “second wave” of increased cases.

The tri-county area falls into the second category as Covid-19 cases swelled in the spring, decreased over the summer and has surged again.

“We had gotten to a low point of COVID in the hospital,” Dukes said. “By late October, our numbers had decreased, but after the Thanksgiving holiday, we saw the numbers steadily increase. So far 3,466 people in Crisp County have tested negative this year while 763 tested positive.”
Dukes said the worst part of the pandemic is not allowing family members to visit the COVID patient.

“We cannot allow it because it just spreads the virus and exposes any body in that room without protection,” she said. “It’s hard for families to be separated from their loved ones. And it’s hard for us nurses and doctors to not allow the families to visit.

“COVID care is more resource and labor intensive than other cases. You can’t just walk into a room and help them to the bathroom. Just to enter a COVID patient’s room, you have to dress out in protective equipment — mask, face shield, gown and gloves — just to enter the room. This is the worst situation in healthcare that I have ever experienced.”

Dukes said Crisp Regional can comfortably care for 50 patients.

“Right now, we have 54 beds filled so we are stretched a little,” she said. “We have adequate staffing but we have to do things like offer extra pay incentives or use contract workers. Out of the 54 beds, 20 are COVID patients. We have four patients on ventilators, which is down from 15 in March and April. The patients we are seeing now are associating their positive results from gatherings.”

Dukes said the relationship between those who take precautions and current cases of COVID-19 is clear.

“In areas where fewer people wear masks and more

gather indoors to eat, drink, observe religious practices, celebrate and socialize, even with family, cases are on the rise,” she said. “Also, places where people live or work closely together such as nursing homes have seen increases in coronavirus outbreaks.”

Dukes said she thinks there will be another surge after Christmas

“As a community, we have been isolating since March,” she said. “The holidays are coming up and people want to see their families so you have to weigh taking the risk of getting COVID against seeing your family. It’s a tough choice.”