Everywhere you turn, you hear or read about COVID-19. Whether you're discussing variants; vaccines, boosters, and mandates; state restrictions on non-essential surgeries; hospital capacity challenges; or healthcare worker shortages, there are plenty of opinions. But they all pale in comparison with this fact: People are dying.
- As of December 13, Saratoga Hospital had a total of 970 COVID-19 admissions and 134 deaths. Those numbers are getting worse every day.
- Not one of those deaths was of a previously healthy vaccinated person. All were either unvaccinated or were at a higher risk because of pre-existing health conditions. And that's the point: People who are vaccinated and are admitted to the hospital have serious underlying conditions that make these patients more vulnerable to serious illness and complications—even death—from COVID-19. Otherwise-healthy patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19 have one thing in common: They are not vaccinated.
- We are losing vital, previously healthy community members to this disease for one reason only: They are not vaccinated. We have lost unvaccinated healthy men in their 20s, unvaccinated middle-aged fathers and mothers, unvaccinated sons and daughters.
- The bottom line: The vaccine is saving lives.
A less obvious danger: waiting to seek care. This has been an issue since the start of the pandemic, especially for those with chronic health conditions—the very people who most need to keep routine health appointments. It's true that we're seeing more patients than ever in our Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centers, and that the state Department of Health is requiring limits on non-essential procedures. But your health still comes first, and we are prepared to care for you. Here's how we can manage this together:
- Don't put off routine care. If you have questions or concerns, call your healthcare provider. Use our convenient telehealth option to help determine the level of care you might need. Reaching out early may help prevent you from becoming seriously ill, and that will benefit all of us. You will be less likely to require Emergency Department or hospital care and will help reduce the demand on stressed hospital resources and staff.
- If you need more immediate care, again, don't delay. Come to our Emergency Department if you have chest pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, dizziness, severe abdominal pain, or a severe injury. For less serious symptoms, call your healthcare provider or come to one of our three Urgent Care Centers. Acting quickly will prevent you from becoming more seriously ill and requiring an extended hospital stay.
- If you've been discussing surgery or another procedure with your provider, it's likely that procedure will still be scheduled despite a recent state order to limit non-essential procedures. We have been anticipating—and preparing for—this order for weeks. We always assess staff and resources and allocate them to meet the needs of our community. We are reviewing procedures on a case-by-case basis and expect most to move forward. If you have a procedure planned, your care team will contact you.
I am asking for your help, support, and patience as we confront an unparalleled strain on our resources. I also want to emphasize how fortunate we are to have such a remarkable, dedicated team. Despite nearly two years of unprecedented, nonstop stress and frustration, our staff still come to work each day determined to take care of our patients—and each other. I am in awe of our team and their commitment to this community, and I am honored to work with them as they care for their neighbors, friends, and family members.
One more request: get vaccinated, including a booster. If you are vaccinated, thank you. If you are hesitant about the vaccine, please discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. I also urge you to take every safety precaution, especially wearing a mask at indoor gatherings, regardless of your vaccination status. Do it for your sake and for those around you. Their lives may depend on it.