Dear Citizens of Rutherford County
August 25, 2021
Dear citizens of Rutherford County:
The current COVID-19 situation in our community is dire. Over the past week, our hospital has experienced a surge of COVID-19 positive patients, and like our neighboring hospitals and health systems, we are operating at the edge of our capacity. This heartbreaking reality is taking an extreme toll on our physicians, nurses, and other frontline staff. We need your help to curb the spread of this virus by getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
At Rutherford Regional Health System (RRHS), COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen more than 167% since last week, and this week, we have reimplemented zero visitor protocol for the safety of our patients and team. Currently, we are treating more than 20 patients who are positive for COVID-19, and the vast majority (90%) are unvaccinated.
Our community’s low vaccination rate is far behind the rest of the state and is putting an extreme burden on our local healthcare system. Our facility is primarily caring for very sick COVID-19 patients, who make up nearly 50 percent of our inpatient census right now. In addition to managing the rapid increase of COVID-19 patients, we continue to care for the ongoing, non-COVID-19 healthcare needs of our community. With another flu season on the horizon, I am concerned for my team and community because the current environment is unsustainable.
If you have already been vaccinated, thank you for doing your part. Not only is the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective at reducing the likelihood of contracting the virus, being hospitalized, or dying, it has now received full approval from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). With the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older, we expect the approval of other vaccines will soon follow.
If you are still on the fence about getting vaccinated, I encourage you to discuss your hesitation with your physician or another member of the medical community. Most of our physicians are vaccinated because they know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and because they support their use. Each vaccine administered is a bed saved for someone having a heart attack, stroke, or other medical emergencies. We have seen firsthand how vaccines protect against this virus and share in the burden COVID-19 has placed on our community which is why we encourage you to be a part of the solution.
Additionally, we strongly encourage our community to take other precautions that we know are effective in slowing the spread of the virus, including wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and continuing proper hand hygiene. When ALL of these measures are consistently practiced, they will help lower the transmission rate and reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in our community.
Even in the midst of this public health emergency, we strongly urge our community not to delay essential and emergency care. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1 or head to the nearest ER. You may experience longer wait times, but you will be seen. If your condition is less severe and not life-threatening, please consider seeking care and treatment at an urgent care clinic or your primary care provider’s office so ER staff can focus on the most critical needs.
RRHS will be hosting two vaccine clinics this week Thursday, August 26 starting at 7:30 am and Friday, August 27 starting at 9:30 am in the Norris Biggs conference area by the Outpatient Entrance of the hospital. If you are unable to make these clinics, please visit MySpot.NC.gov to find a vaccine near you.
On behalf of our team of healthcare heroes at Rutherford Regional Health System, I urge our community to take action now and get vaccinated against COVID-19. We need you, just like you need us. Please sign up to be vaccinated today, and don’t let yourself or someone you love be the next victim of COVID-19.
CEO, Rutherford Regional Health System