Recorded July 27, 2021; broadcast on July 29, 2021.
Jeremy Drinkwitz is the President of the Mercy Hospital in Joplin. Joplin currently has the worst rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county and three of the surrounding counties it serves are also in the top 10.
Prior to this delta variant-driven surge, Drinkwitz said their COVID-19 inpatient record high was 60 patients last November. But during the last several weeks, that has risen into the 70s, and – as of yesterday, to 81 COVID-19 inpatients.
So, Drinkwitz spoke about the impact of the current COVID-19 surge – and hospitalizations – on his community and hospital staff.
Related Issues: COVID-19
President, Mercy Hospital Joplin
Jeremy Drinkwitz: So, 95% of the patients that we have admitted for COVID, as of right now as we're speaking, are unvaccinated, and that has been consistent every single day - between 95 and 97%.
So, you know, the first wave or second wave or I don’t even know what wave we're on right now, but you know, it was the older population, and we as a community and as a country rallied to protect our seniors and did a great job and got vaccinated.
But most of the people on our ventilators today - we have 50-year-olds, we have 40-year-olds, we have a couple 30-year-olds, a couple of 60-year-olds, but we don't have anybody over the age of 70 on a ventilator.
And you know, they should have good years ahead of them, and so, we're doing everything we can to save them, but the challenge is these patients believed false information about the vaccine.
And so, the hard part mentally for our staff is we know that these admissions and we know that the people that we're taking care of that are dying are preventable.
And so, I think we're like everybody else: We're tired, we're frustrated, we're challenged, you know, and you look at patients and you think, “Man, we shouldn't have to be taken care of these patients if they just got a vaccination," and so, that's becoming a big challenge.
I tell you, what I step back and think about though, is the mental toughness of our team, how resilient they are. I mean, you're talking about a facility that was destroyed by a tornado. Then they [nurses] rallied, and they rallied into a hospital tent, and then a modular building, and then this building, and so they're digging deep.
It's a little tougher this time around, for sure, because, you know, that hope of being through this and the hope of getting back to normal has dissipated. So, there's frustration, there's irritation, but they're [the medical staff] tough. They're not going to give up. They're not going to quit.
They can be mad, and they can be irritated, but they're going to give the best that they got to save people. You know, when you walk in that ICU, it's challenging. It's a difficult, difficult environment, and the way that they treat those patients with kindness and compassion and tenderness.
And I think that if people would just step back and honestly have a conversation and look at the data, you know, we don't have an agenda. We're trying to save people's lives. We're just reporting the facts.
And so, the facts are 95% of the patients in our hospital right now are unvaccinated, and the facts are that we know that the vaccines that has significantly helped those going forward. We've almost given 4 billion doses of the vaccine worldwide. So, this isn't an experiment anymore. It's working. This is probably the greatest vaccine since the polio vaccine.
And it's saving people's lives if people would just step back and see it.
So, you know, if you really love people, right? if you love your community, if you love your friends, if you love your neighbors – it causes you to do action. So, one of those actions is getting the vaccine. The other one is to wear masks, social distance, do the things that you know to do, and be diligent about it. Not because somebody is asking you to do it – because it's the right thing to do if you love somebody.
Because love requires action.
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