Tahoe Forest Hospital received positive response to mandatory vaccines for health care workers; COVID-19 hospitalizations on the downturn
Tahoe Forest Health System’s health sector had a 94% vaccination rate as of Tuesday.
It reached that milestone after the COVID-19 vaccine became mandatory for health care workers in California.
“We had a very positive response,” said Judy Newland, the hospital district’s chief operating officer.
Health care workers are also getting their booster shots as soon as they are available.
Those eligible for the booster include people aged 65 and older, adults with underlying medical conditions, adults working in long-term care, and front line workers over the age of 18. A vaccine card or other vaccine documentation is required in order to receive a booster shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech third dose in a clinical trial had developed a higher immunity to COVID-19 than their first two doses six months prior.
“I would recommend that those that aren’t vaccinated get vaccinated. We know that vaccines are well tested and are highly effective against getting infected. Those that qualify for the booster should go ahead and get the booster,” said Newland.
CHANGE FROM LAST YEAR
Newland said that things are changing from last year’s strain on hospitals.
“(The hospital environment) is different in that… last year we didn’t really know a lot about COVID,” she said. “People worked really hard, we still do. Today we know that if you’re vaccinated, you’re less likely to be admitted to a hospital, the transmission is less, we know that masking makes a difference… we put many steps in place to make sure when (patients) came in the front door, they were as safe as possible.”
In 2020 the highest number of COVID-19 inpatients at Tahoe Forest Hospital was 11. Currently the hospital may have one to five positive inpatients per day. The total number of deaths in the Tahoe Forest Health System due directly to COVID-19 since the pandemic began is six people, with 1,560 positive tests as of Wednesday.
According to Newland, the hospital has put extra measures in place to provide a safe environment for the community, and continues to take care of the regular medical needs of individuals. All services provided prior to the pandemic are now back in full swing.
“When the pandemic initially began in 2020, there were restrictions on health care that hospitals were allowed to provide,” Newland said “That has changed and we are at full function, but do require that all patients and visitors are masked.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Tahoe Forest Health used security guards to support patients and team members. All guests are greeted and given a fresh mask in order to ensure that those entering the hospital are following mask mandates, per Nevada County regulations.
Newland said she believes that health care workers nationally have been through a lot the past year, but that those at Tahoe Forest Health System are working courageously for as long as it takes.
“Our health system physicians, nurses and all staff have really been supportive of each other. We are urging people to get vaccinated. Hopefully we’re seeing a downshift in the surge and we don’t see a new surge.”
The Gateway Vaccine Clinic is still running for first and second doses, as well as boosters for those who qualify. Those who wish to get vaccinated can visit myturn.ca.gov and schedule an appointment. Vaccinations are free to all — including those without health insurance. The Gateway Clinic is open from 9 a.m. to noon, then 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is at 11004 Donner Pass Road.
Elizabeth White is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com
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