A Letter to the Citizens of Elko County
August 24, 2021
From the leadership team at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have reached a critical moment in our battle against COVID-19. The Delta variant has torn through our community, our hospital and our state’s healthcare system with a vengeance. The patients currently being admitted to our hospital with COVID-19 are both the youngest and the sickest we’ve seen throughout the pandemic. It is heartbreaking, frustrating and exhausting – but above all, it is preventable. So, today we are pleading with you to do just one thing: get vaccinated.
Nevada has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, with a mere 47 percent of the population fully vaccinated. And our community’s 26 percent vaccination rate is even lower than the state average. The burden this low vaccination rate has put on our system is unsustainable. In fact, the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients admitted to our hospital has increased exponentially since August 1. Most of these acutely sick individuals are under the age of 50 and all of them are unvaccinated.
We are doing everything we can to manage the rapid increase in patients while also continuing to care for the ongoing, non-COVID-19 healthcare needs of our community. Despite these efforts, our system is strained and our people are tired.
The hardest part of what we’re facing right now is knowing this is avoidable, and that, with your help, we could turn the tide against COVID-19. First and foremost, getting vaccinated greatly reduces the likelihood of someone contracting the virus, being hospitalized or dying. If you are on the fence about getting vaccinated, please call your physician to talk about the vaccine. More than 95 percent of all physicians are vaccinated because they know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and we expect the approval of other vaccines will soon follow.
Each vaccine administered is a hospital bed saved for someone having a heart attack, stroke or other potentially life-threatening illness. Additionally, we strongly encourage our community to take the precautions we know are effective in slowing the spread of the virus, including wearing a mask (especially if unvaccinated), physical distancing and continuing to practice proper hand hygiene. When all these measures are consistently practiced, they will help lower the transmission rate and reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in our community.
Even amid this public health crisis, we strongly urge our community not to delay essential and emergency care. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1 or head to the ER. If your condition is less severe and not life-threatening, please consider seeking care and treatment at an urgent care clinic or your primary care provider’s office so ER staff can focus on the most critical needs.
We long for the day when this pandemic is behind us. But the only way we will get there is if we all do our part to protect ourselves – most importantly, by getting the vaccine. Vaccination is the primary way we will avoid further overwhelming the healthcare system here at home, in our region and across the state.
On behalf of our healthcare heroes at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital, we implore our community to act now. We need you, just like you need us. Please sign up to be vaccinated today, and don’t let yourself or someone you love be the next victim of COVID-19.
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Paton Whimple
Chief of Medical Staff
Chief Nursing Officer