Sonora, CA…In a joint statement, Adventist Health Sonora and Tuolumne County Public Health (TCPH) are urging Tuolumne County residents that now is the time to band together as a community and stop the current COVID-19 surge, “Sonora is a community with deep roots and caring hearts,” said Michelle Fuentes, President of Adventist Health Sonora. “When our neighbors are hurting, we step in to help. Our community is hurting because of the current surge, and we need all hands on deck to fight this.”
Over the last several weeks, daily cases in the community have risen sharply, and the Emergency Department at Adventist Health Sonora has seen unprecedented numbers of patients each day. The total number of admitted patients has also been high, leaving few beds available for patients with emergent medical needs. Given limited space and the high number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital, elective inpatient surgeries are on hold until capacity improves.
The hospital continues to maintain safe and appropriate staffing levels and is adapting to current needs by bringing on staff in a range of departments and recruiting for several open positions in clinical and non-clinical settings. Still, medical providers are worn thin.
“Exhaustion is an understatement at this point,” Dr. Philip Clarkson, Hospitalist at Adventist Health Sonora, said. “We’re trained to provide services, care for patients, and in some cases, save lives. We’ll continue to do that. But what’s sad is that so much of this is preventable.”
COVID-19 hospitalizations are worse now than at any point since the pandemic began, and those hospitalized are almost entirely unvaccinated. From August 1 to 22, 2021, 72 patients have been hospitalized with COVID-19 at Adventist Health Sonora. 64 of those patients were unvaccinated—that’s 89%. Of the nineteen COVID-19 patients who went to the ICU and the sixteen who required ventilators, only one was vaccinated.
While breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in vaccinated people do happen, having increased with the Delta variant, they are a low percentage of cases, TCPH reports. The risk of severe symptoms, hospitalization, and death is significantly lower for vaccinated individuals who do get COVID-19.
“The evidence is clear: vaccination can help shield our loved ones and neighbors here in Tuolumne County from the worst outcomes,” said Michelle Jachetta, TCPH Director. “The best, most effective thing community members can do to protect themselves, their community, and the capacity of our local healthcare system is to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Safety measures like wearing a mask in public, washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, and avoiding large gatherings continue to be critical, especially for those who aren’t yet fully vaccinated. Those who have been exposed to COVID-19 should also get tested.
“While the current surge in Tuolumne County is incredibly serious, we have tools to get us through the pandemic,” Jachetta said. “If those who are eligible get vaccinated and everyone continues to practice the other recommended safety measures, we can finally get back on the path toward the normal we’re all missing.”
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Adventist Health is a faith-based, nonprofit integrated health system serving more than 80 communities on the West Coast and Hawaii as well as others across the U.S. through its Blue Zones company, a pioneer in taking a systemic and environmental approach to improving the health of entire cities and communities. Through this work, Adventist Health is leading a 21st century well-being transformation movement. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist heritage and values, Adventist Health provides care in hospitals, clinics, its innovative Adventist Health Hospital@Home program that provides virtual in-patient care at home, home care agencies, hospice agencies and joint-venture retirement centers in both rural and urban communities. Our compassionate and talented team of 37,000 includes associates, medical staff physicians, allied health professionals and volunteers driven in pursuit of one mission: living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope. Together, we are transforming the American healthcare experience with an innovative, yet timeless, whole-person focus on physical, mental, spiritual and social healing to support community well-being.