OAHHS Hospital Voice Fall/Winter 2021-22

34 » A magazine for and about Oregon Community Hospitals. Many parts of Oregon have had to shift some of those important public health community resources working on prevention and wellness to vaccines and other more immediate needs. Does that worry you? I am worried because we’ve had disruptions across the system. Whether it’s public health or CCOs, or hospitals and health care systems were delivering wellness programs focused on keeping people healthy. Yes, when your ICU is full and you have people stacked up in the waiting room, yes, you’re going to focus the resources on caring for those patients in front of you. Whether it was our PPE shortages early where we didn’t have nearly the number of COVID patients in the hospital, but we were constrained by PPE, to our current surge where we’ve had to cancel some elective procedures. Maybe to a member of the general public they think that an elective procedure is someone getting a tummy tuck or a nose job, but those elective procedures are the hip replacement for the person living in pain who has to live in pain for months more and is not as mobile, and that has other impacts on their health to their cancer staging that gets delayed and potentially puts people at risk, to other procedures that are truly urgent and needed, we delayed a lot of care and it’s going to take a while to catch up. Childhood immunizations, cancer screenings, but I think as we come down from this pandemic, we can refocus and get those services back in place, and the value of those services became even more clear when they went away for a little while. Prevention, it’s hard because we’re victims of our own success. Vaccine preventable diseases were virtually wiped out, we don’t see measles much, so people don’t fear measles and say I don’t need to vaccinate my kid for measles, but that’s because the vaccines work. Prevention is that same way, we’re doing great at preventing things, but then people say well I don’t need to do that anymore so the shift in focus from some of those prevention activities, screening activities, we’ve seen the impact on health care, and we need to double down as we come out and we continue to build up those programs stronger. Because you know, my thoughts go out to my health care partners because during the surge they were strained in multiple ways, and we had them caring for the most patients that they needed to during this pandemic but still being important partners with vaccinations so that we could minimize future surges and still being important partners to make sure even those with mild illness could get tested to find out if they were sick and needed to stay home and all those things came at once. Same thing for our public health partners, and how do you triage and manage all of those. It’s hard and we’ve been lucky to bring in additional resources, the National Guard and some contracted folks and others, but those are short term solutions, they’ll get us through the surge, keeping us out of the next surge is vaccination and keeping people healthy and access to monoclonal antibodies and oral retrovirals. As difficult as this has all been, are you still optimistic about where we are headed as a state? I am. If you look at our cumulative numbers, we’ve done well as a state. We’ve saved thousands of lives. There have been tremendous impacts on mental health and the economy, but we can recover from those because there are resources, and we know the importance of focusing attention there and I think we can come out of this stronger and we can be more prepared for the next pandemic. But during that time, it’s important “In fighting this pandemic, which we began facing in January of 2020 with cases in China and talking about repatriation of Oregonians back, even before we had a case, this kind of pace is not sustainable with our current system.” Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Health Office & Epidemiologist