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Valley Health Urges Vigilance Heading into Holiday Weekend

Valley Health Urges Vigilance Heading into Holiday Weekend

With area hospitals and outpatient locations treating a rapidly rising number of COVID-19 patients, Valley Health is appealing to the community to curtail plans for New Year’s socializing and soften the holiday’s impact on our local health care resources.

“Our caregivers have given their all for nearly two years to save lives and fight COVID-19 in our community,” said Valley Health President and CEO Mark Nantz. “They have shown remarkable resiliency, but like all of us, they’re growing tired. We are asking the community to renew their vigilance, pull together and help stop the spread of this virus.”

Valley Health’s six hospitals are currently treating 145 patients for COVID-19, about 85% of whom are unvaccinated. According to Iyad Sabbagh, MD, Chief Physician Executive, the most severely ill patients are unvaccinated, underscoring the importance of COVID-19 vaccination and boosters.

“The data and scientific evidence overwhelmingly points to the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination,” said Dr. Sabbagh. “I implore residents to get vaccinated or boosted, continue to follow masking recommendations and consider implementing social distancing measures such as canceling New Year’s events where the virus could easily spread. The Omicron variant we are now confronting is more contagious than previous versions of this virus and is spreading rapidly in our community.”

Hospital Visiting Curtailed – Level Red

Patient visitation at Valley Health hospitals remains at “Level Red” to reduce the risk of transmission between visitors, patients and caregivers. At this time, only approved Care Partners are permitted to visit hospitalized patients. “Social visiting” is not allowed, and those accompanying patients to outpatient appointments will be asked to wait in their cars.

Symptomatic Testing

Our region is experiencing a shortage of testing resources – at-home test kits are unavailable at many local retailers and there are long lines at testing sites.

Your primary care physician is the first option for care for those with mild to moderate symptoms. When that is not an option, Valley Health Urgent Care locations offer online appointments with the following day’s schedule available beginning at midnight each day. Individuals can also select an in-person or telehealth appointment. Once available appointments are taken, individuals may walk in for care. Walk-in wait times are currently high due to heavy volume.

Valley Health Urgent Care locations do not offer COVID testing for asymptomatic patients who were exposed to COVID and only offer travel testing for individuals with a provider’s order.

The Emergency Department is for Emergencies

Across the country, patient volumes in emergency rooms have led to long waits and capacity concerns. If you have virus symptoms, especially with complicating medical conditions, it is best to err on the side of caution - don’t wait to be seen. However, Valley Health officials are urging those with mild symptoms or who simply want a test to NOT go to the Emergency Department. Despite the current bottlenecks in testing, individuals are encouraged to locate tests through their primary care provider, an urgent care clinic or an at-home antigen test.

“All of our hospital care teams remain ready to provide emergency and acute treatment for patients with illnesses and injuries of all kinds,” explained Sabbagh. “But we need the community’s help to safeguard resources. If you are having symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain – which may indicate COVID-19 and many other critical illnesses – you should call 911 or seek care in an emergency department. But if you need testing, please don’t call 911.”

“We are still all in this together,” Nantz reflected. “We can help our coworkers, patients, families and friends respond safely, rationally and thoughtfully to create the best possible outcomes. We can listen to one another, be thoughtful, and understand that we are dealing with this crisis together, not separately.”

Visit www.valleyhealthlink.com/coronavirus for updates on Valley Health visitation policies and other service adjustments.