Our current COVID-19 situation is dire. It is heartbreaking, frustrating and exhausting – and one could argue, PREVENTABLE. The Delta variant has torn through our community, our hospital, and the healthcare system in our state with a vengeance that I have never seen in my healthcare career. Like most healthcare facilities in our region, Paris Regional Medical Center is overburdened and operating at the edge of our capacity. This heartbreaking reality is taking an extreme toll on our physicians, nurses, and other frontline staff. We need your help to curb the spread of this virus by getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Texas has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, with only 48% percent of the population fully vaccinated. In Lamar County, our community vaccination rate is even lower at 36% percent vaccination rate. This summer Paris Regional Medical Center (PRMC) has experienced a dramatic increase in COVID-19 admissions, beginning with less than 20 patients in June and less than 30 patients in July, and climbing to more than 140 patients in August – a surge of more than 740%. The sad and startling fact is that 92% of all COVID admissions, 97% of all COVID ICU patients and 100% of COVID-related deaths in August were unvaccinated individuals.
I know one of the arguments against getting the COVID vaccine is that individuals develop natural immunity after contracting COVID, which is true. However, there is no guarantee for how long this natural immunity lasts, and it is possible to contract COVID again. Further, the vaccine, now approved by the FDA, has proven to be effective at reducing the likelihood of contracting the virus, being hospitalized or dying. Our local experience treating COVID patients at PRMC supports the vaccine’s effectiveness.
If you are on the fence about getting vaccinated, please pick up the phone and call your physician to talk specifically about the vaccine. More than 90 percent of all physicians on our medical staff are vaccinated because they know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Each vaccine administered is a bed saved for someone having a heart attack, stroke or other potentially life-threatening illness. Additionally, I strongly encourage our community to take other precautions that we know are effective in slowing the spread of the virus, including wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and continuing proper hand hygiene. When ALL of these measures are consistently practiced, they will help lower the transmission rate and reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in our community.
During this public health emergency, I 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 nearest ER. You may experience longer wait times, but you will be seen. 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.
I believe that good people can share different opinions on the value and necessity of getting a COVID vaccine. I accept and respect everyone’s opinion to do what they think is best, and in this brief letter, I’ve shared mine. I long for the day when this pandemic is behind us, and we are finally free from its devastating grasp. I want nothing more than to walk into work again and see the smiling, happy faces of my team members and a hospital that is not completely full of very sick – and scared – people. But in my opinion, the only way we will get there is by using every tool we have available – especially getting the vaccine.
On behalf of our team of healthcare heroes at Paris Regional Medical Center, I implore our community to act now. We need you, just like you need us. Please sign up to be vaccinated today at getthevaccine.dshs.texas.gov, and don’t let yourself or someone you love be the next victim of COVID-19.
Respectfully and sincerely,
CEO, Paris Regional Medical Center