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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) – Dr. Jim Smith is the medical director of Great Plains Health’s North Platte emergency department. On Thursday afternoon, Dr. Smith organized an emergency room meeting with the media in hopes of doing the job on the ongoing pandemic and reminding people that it is not over yet.
According to Dr. Smith, cases are even increasing, with up to a dozen COVID-19 positive patients, including one recently deceased, being seen locally.
Dr. Smith believes in the vaccine, and although he has treated vaccinated patients with COVID-19 (breakthrough patients) there is good news. He says the symptoms and severity of the disease are much less with the vaccine on board. He knows that things like washing hands, staying home when he’s sick, social distancing, and wearing masks in tight spaces all help. He says he didn’t have any flu patients during the flu season.
And now the region is seeing a significant intake of cases. Dr. Smith says the people who are hospitalized are patients without the vaccine.
“I know there are a lot of political issues about not getting vaccinated, but my observation is that it helps prevent the severity of the disease. It works in people and in contracting the virus, and I encourage all of you to do so (vaccinate yourself). “
Dr. Smith says health care providers are tired.
“We’ve just spent eighteen months fighting it. We’ve all had this breather with the vaccinations – the numbers are going down, but now they’re definitely going up again. So I would ask you to reach out to the frontline staff, especially the frontline staff and the staff who are in the rooms with these people every day, and show them your support because the system is stressed is.”
Dr. Smith says the system is stressed and at the national level, people are leaving the calling because they are tired and tired of risking their lives. While Great Plains Health, according to Dr. Smith is “well staffed” he would really appreciate it if everyone could reach out to Great Plains Health staff and assist them where possible.
“Wash your hands, wear a mask, get vaccinated, and we’ll do everything we can to look after you here at the hospital.”
Dr. Smith says this may be due to pressures to vaccinate the older population early, with higher vaccination rates in an older population, but now that most cases are being viewed as delta variants, these cases are being seen more frequently in the younger population . According to Dr. Smith “stickier” and more contagious, but whoever is vaccinated with current vaccines is better protected in his opinion than those who are not. Dr. Smith says the hospitals are filling up again. Great Plains Health is taking in patients from other states to help with the lack of beds (one of the initial problems many hoped to avoid).
He says in order to keep the hospitals open, protocols will be put in place to treat people at home as well as possible to ensure essential health care without tying up inpatient resources in the hospitals.
“It is time we took this seriously again. I think this autumn will be another ride. The beds are getting tight. People will die. Hand washing, general hygiene, masking works in my opinion. Obviously, the vaccine seems to be preventing the vast majority of infections, and the breakthroughs we’re having seem less severe from what I’m seeing clinically. This community has a big heart and we will stick together and get through this if we all care not for ourselves but for one another. I am not telling you what to do. I’m just telling you to think about it and take it to heart. It is your own choice. We just don’t want you to give it to others and overwhelm the system. “
Dr. Smith says Great Plains Health is now participating in a Phase 2 trial with approval of an inhaled drug for COVID-19 that can be administered on an outpatient basis.
Dr. Smith says he gets up every day and loves his job of looking after people. He says he likes challenges, but he would be fine if COVID-19 stopped challenging the hospital. He says it’s hard to see how his employees and colleagues – from nurses to diagnostics and imaging to administration – are working through the pandemic.
“I’ve been through hepatitis C, HIV, West Nile, MERS, all of these things I’ve been through, this is clearly the biggest challenge we’ve ever had, but we’re going to get through this.”
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