On December 18th, 2020, Community Health Network administered its first COVID-19 vaccine. Since then, the central Indiana-based health network vaccinated a half-million Hoosiers throughout the communities it serves. Through vaccine clinics, physician offices, and outreach clinics at schools, churches, and organizations, Community provides what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and other health agencies recommend is the best protection against COVID-19.
“There was a feeling of hope that first day,” recalls Emily Sego, Community Health Network Chief Nurse Executive for Ambulatory services who leads the health system’s vaccine efforts. “People were joyful, happy. We had long lines. People did not mind waiting to get the vaccine.”
More than a year later, amid skepticism, mistrust, and a political divide, Indiana ranks among the lowest for vaccination rates in the nation at 53% of its population vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Now, with a new variant, doctors and health agencies recommend not only getting vaccinated, but also getting a booster shot for those 16 and older.
What makes this surge the most challenging yet is that hospitals across Indiana are experiencing an overflow of both COVID and non-COVID patients. Those hospitalized from COVID-19 tend to be hospitalized for longer, occupying ICU (Intensive Care Unit) beds for longer periods of time than normal, limiting the number of available beds and caregivers for patients. It has even created longer than normal wait times for emergency care.
Community Health Network, Eskenazi Health, and IU Health recently joined together in a plea for the public’s help. In a full-page newspaper ad with the headline that read ‘We can’t do
this alone,’ leaders from the hospital systems explained a ‘dire’ situation and the need for vaccination, boosters, masks, and testing.
Dr. Ram Yeleti, Chief Physician Executive for Community Health Network said, in a video message, there are more patients than beds at Community’s hospitals; and to free up beds, non-emergent surgeries are being delayed.
Health officials, physicians and the CDC agree vaccination is still the safest, most effective protection against COVID-19. A booster is the best defense against the omicron variant of the virus. Wearing masks while in public will help prevent the spread of the virus.
As healthcare workers approach two years since the start of the pandemic, the feelings of joy and hope have been replaced with frustration and exhaustion.
“It takes all of us to educate the greater population why it’s important, “said Sego.” This is our chance and opportunity to heal and come back together and go to work every day and spend time with our family and friends.”
For COVID care options, including more information on vaccines and testing, visit eCommunity.com.
THIS SEGMENT IS SPONSORED BY COMMUNITY HEALTH NETWORK.