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Run through the tape to victory over COVID-19

As president and CEO of Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London and Westerly Hospital, I know firsthand how difficult these past 15 months have been for our communities. I also feel optimism growing from the impact of vaccines and lower positivity rates. We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel because of the extraordinary sacrifices that we all have made. However, we must finish the race.

My high school track coach would always say… “Run through the tape.” Do not slow down or you might get caught and lose the race that you have worked so hard to win. I often use that quote as motivation, and now I ask that, as a community, we run through the tape. We are almost at the finish line.

Yes, we are hopeful. We envision the day when the number of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals will be down to zero. We look forward to the day when we can fully enjoy gathering with friends and family without restrictions. The good news is that there are signs of hope, but we need continued vigilance.

Think of how far we have come. A year ago, we were just entering the throes of this pandemic, literally walking into the unknown. Today, vaccinations are helping protect us. Warmer weather means we can gather outdoors where we can socially distance and stay safe. Yet we must do things carefully. We do not want to lose ground as we have seen in other states where cases of COVID-19 are rising after relaxing safety protocols too quickly.

Last summer, we thought we were in a better place, but in the fall, we witnessed a second wave, and it turned out to be worse than what we experienced in the spring of 2020. That’s why we need the fortitude as a community to stay the course for a bit longer. We still need to avoid large gatherings, wear our masks, wash our hands, and practice appropriate social distancing.

We need more people to be vaccinated. Our vaccines are safe. They will help us beat this virus. I commend everyone who has received the doses of these life-saving vaccines. It can feel exhilarating. I know from personal experience.

Eligibility is now open to all adults, and we must encourage our friends and neighbors to step up and help us “Crush COVID.” Remember, a virus cannot spread or mutate into new and more dangerous variants if it cannot transmit itself to new hosts, which means we may finally have a chance to gain the upper hand.

Yale New Haven Health has vaccinated more than 206,000 people, including more than 13,000 individuals at our Mitchell College site and more than 11,000 at Mohegan Sun. Our health system is also sponsoring pop-up vaccination clinics in the community, starting with Shiloh Baptist Church, and another scheduled at the Church of the City in downtown New London.

Community members who attended our last pop-up clinic expressed thanks, truly grasping what it means to take the next step in protection against COVID-19. The Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut is getting the vaccine to those who are homebound. We stand ready to continue to fulfill this mission for the safety of our community. In this fight against an invisible enemy, we cannot risk another large-scale wave of community infections, hospitalizations, more lockdowns, and a longer battle that will cost more lives.

I’m grateful to be part of the purpose-driven mission to deliver this safe vaccine to all those who are eligible to be vaccinated. That’s what it’s going to take to restore the richness of life we so dearly miss.

The good news is that COVID-19 inpatient cases are on the decline. At the peak of the pandemic, we had 55 inpatients at L+M Hospital and 22 inpatients at Westerly Hospital. We are nowhere near those numbers now and this downward trend gives us a palpable sense of hope.

The community has been immensely supportive of our healthcare team during this pandemic, and we thank everyone for their support. Let’s finish the race together and “run through the tape!” Our frontline caregivers have seen too many families suffering because of this disease. It is imperative that we stay strong until the war is won.

Patrick L. Green is president and CEO of the Lawrence + Memorial and Westerly hospitals.

 

 

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