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Hospitals Plead for Community To Get Vaccinated as Delta Strains Healthcare System

Rebecca White

Healthcare providers say if COVID numbers don’t improve, Eastern Washington could soon follow North Idaho into crisis standard of care.

Spokane County Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez said this region has 300% more cases now than this time last year – and the vast majority of those are in the unvaccinated category. Many more now are also going to the hospital.

“Think about having 300 times more of a workload that was already almost impossible a few months ago. Think about that context – and I would encourage you to really follow our advice. We do have your best interest at heart – we really do – all of us have seen patients die – and it’s not easy for anyone to see.”

Peg Currie, the chief executive for Sacred Heart and Holy Family Hospitals, said because of the sharp increase in serious cases, Providence has halted elective procedures.

She said hospitals need people to get vaccinated – and wear their masks to help avoid a crisis declaration.

“When those crisis standard of care are actually declared – what it means that you are rationing care – you’re making choices through a good team of physicians and ethicists, and determining who’s going to get what. That is a very scary place to be for our country and our state, and we’re working very hard to avoid that.”

Currie said Providence now has a record 150 COVID patients in its hospitals, many in the ICU. MultiCare has more than 70 patients hospitalized.

About 60% of Spokane County residents have had at least one dose of the vaccine, but many of the surrounding counties, which depend on Spokane's healthcare system, have a rate that' is 10 to 15% lower.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.
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