It is hard to believe that we are entering a second holiday season with the weight of the pandemic upon us.
COVID-19 is again quickly spreading in our communities, and we are seeing a dramatic rise in patients with COVID-19 that are requiring hospitalization. We are now managing more INPATIENTS with COVID-19 in New Hampshire hospitals than ever before. At the same time, we are seeing more patients across our organization -- from our emergency department and urgent care centers, to the primary care offices and inpatient units -- and it is not all COVID-related. More patients are also choosing us to provide care for acute and chronic conditions, and they need equal attention to those suffering from COVID-19. Hospitals across the country – Elliot included – are also still facing staffing shortages that are contributing to the strain on the system.
I don’t share this to cause alarm but to raise awareness about the quickly changing situation here and across the state. As healthcare providers, we are facing a stark picture of what the winter has in store for our hospitals, healthcare workers, and ultimately for the care we will be able to provide to patients.
I, too, feel the desire to return to a sense of normalcy this holiday season, but today I am urging you to continue to take measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes washing your hands often, wearing masks indoors, avoiding high risk gatherings with dense crowds of people with mixed vaccine status, staying home if you are sick, and getting appropriately tested if you have symptoms or have a high-risk exposure to COVID. If you plan to gather with your family and loved ones next week, please be mindful to minimize risk and take action to enjoy the holiday as safely as possible.
Every effort we make to stop the spread of this virus will help stabilize our healthcare system and ensure the care you or a loved one needs is available when you need it.
Here at The Elliot, we are readying to deploy resources to support a predicted surge in demand that feels imminent as winter arrives - much like we planned for but did not need to do in March of 2020. Unfortunately, we now have fewer resources in terms of staff and facility capacity than we did in the first two surges. Due in part to the stress the pandemic has had on all healthcare workers, some have left the profession. This staffing stress is magnified by the increased demand for more traditional healthcare needs, which is possibly due to the delays to care incurred in 2020.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I also want to share my gratitude to The Elliot’s dedicated, resilient and compassionate staff – both in clinical and support roles – who provide unparalleled care for patients and who continue to do so in increasingly difficult circumstances.
I am also thankful to you: our patients and community. You have stood by us these last 22 months, and I ask that you continue to extend grace and kindness to the healthcare workers who have given so much of themselves through the pandemic. We are now more than ever the “healthcare heroes” you recognized and celebrated in 2020. We could sure use some of that collective community spirit and strength now. We have all faced our share of challenges this year and it is more important than ever that we come together to each play our part in caring for one another. Thank you.