Letter from CEO Peter Mulkey
August 27, 2021
To the citizens of Tazewell County and the surrounding areas:
Our current COVID-19 situation continues to move rapidly in the wrong direction. It is heartbreaking, frustrating and exhausting – but above all, it is preventable. The Delta variant is significantly impacting our community, our hospital and the healthcare system in our state. Like most healthcare facilities in our region, Clinch Valley Health is overburdened. Tazewell County has now issued a state of Local Emergency directly related to the spread of COVID-19 in our county.
As a state, Virginia has one of the better vaccination rates. However, the counties of southwest Virginia continue to be below 40% vaccination. The number of COVID-19-positive patients we have admitted to our hospital has increased significantly since August 1, and most of these individuals are unvaccinated. In fact, more than 95% of patients being seen in our emergency department, physician offices or those admitted to the hospital have not been vaccinated. We are doing everything we can to manage the increase in COVID-19 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. With your help, we can turn the tide against COVID-19. First and foremost, getting vaccinated greatly reduces the likelihood of someone contracting the virus, being hospitalized or dying. With the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older, we expect the approval of other vaccines will soon follow.
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 across the country are fully 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, we 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.
Even in the midst of this public health emergency, 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 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.
On behalf of our team of healthcare heroes at Clinch Valley Health, I ask you to take action now. Please sign up to be vaccinated today, and don’t let yourself or someone you love be the next victim of COVID-19. Vaccination is the primary way we will avoid further overwhelming the healthcare system here at home, in our region and across the state.
President and CEO, Clinch Valley Health