I am a doctor at West Valley Medical Center and, along with the dedicated nurses, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners and other physicians and clinicians, I am on the front line, caring for the sickest patients suffering from COVID-19 and its complications.
I am not a politician or anyone’s puppet.
I shop at the same stores as you, my kids went to school with yours, and I may have treated you or your family in the past.
I am asking, even begging, you to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Let me tell you what I am seeing right now in our community.
Currently, more than 40% of our hospital patients are being admitted for COVID-19 related conditions. In the last month in our local hospital, we have lost six times as many patients to COVID-19 as we did to all causes in an average month before the pandemic.
With only a few exceptions, the patients in our hospital have not been vaccinated, and across the country 93% of COVID-19 patients in the hospital and 91% of COVID-19 deaths are unvaccinated.
I am seeing young people in their 20s and 30s dying from COVID-19. I have watched as too many families say their last good-byes.
It is breaking my heart knowing that people are getting sick and dying unnecessarily. Unlike one year ago, we have a vaccine that works. And while it is not perfect, it does vastly reduce your risk of hospitalization and death.
Think of it like a seat belt; it’s not going to prevent the accident, but it will probably save your life.
I understand that some people feel the risk of the vaccine is greater than the risk of getting COVID-19. This vaccine has been tested more than nearly any other vaccine, and every credible study has shown it to be safe.
I have been a physician for a long time, and I’ve never found myself pleading with people like I do now, because I strongly believe the risk of being unvaccinated is too great.
We have done our best to expand the capacity of our emergency rooms and ICU and have even brought in additional ventilators. But we are already stretched to our limit and are still nowhere near the end of this spike.
Like our hospital, other hospitals across the state are in the same difficult position with too few beds, and because every hospital is just as full, there is nowhere to send anyone in need.
More people getting the vaccine will keep beds open and available for heart attack and stroke patients, cancer treatment, hip replacements and all the other care people desperately need. We will never give up, but I’ve never seen our staff so tired and emotionally drained, and I’m worried.
Though I normally avoid publicity, I am simply desperate enough to beg.
To everyone in our community, this is about YOU. It’s about wanting to provide the best care for you.
Believe me when I say my plea has nothing to do with politics or business, and it shouldn’t, it never should. This is about your health. It is about keeping families from being torn apart.
It’s time to buckle up and get vaccinated.
Dr. Richard Augustus is the chief medical officer at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell.