As a witness to the COVID-19 carnage on the frontlines at Peterson Regional Medical Center, Dr. Chris Glanton, Chief of Staff at Peterson Health, felt compelled to help medical staff wade through the onslaught of conflicting information on vaccinations and the public’s hesitation to receive them.
The result was a detailed, four-page document citing proven data on potential adverse effects of the vaccines, disturbing trends in the rise of COVID-19 cases, actual reported numbers proving vaccines are saving lives and the conclusion that, with the rise of the Delta variant, unvaccinated individuals will ultimately contract the virus. To view the document in its entirety, click this link: https://www.hccommunityjournal.com/article_9d7039da-1017-11ec-8910-d301c9b5399d.html
Currently, Peterson Health is admitting record numbers of severely ill COVID-19 patients. Of those patients, Glanton said, 95 percent are unvaccinated and overwhelmingly, it is the unvaccinated patients that are suffering through the most severe illness.
“Case after case, people are being intubated and they are saying, ‘I wish I would have gotten the shot,’ or ‘Can I get the shot?’,” Glanton said. “And we have to tell them that it’s too late now. It’s agonizing for the staff, because they know that their illness could have been prevented.”
It’s the true facts, the local eye-witness accounts of daily interactions, that prompted Glanton to share his internal memo with the general public.
“I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, I just want to put the data out there so people can make an objective assessment as to whether they should or shouldn’t get the vaccine,” Glanton said.
The biggest hurdle in combating the pandemic seems to be a lack of trust in the science and the government, of which Glanton addresses in his memo.
“I just think the messaging from on high, whether that’s CDC or Dr. Fauci or government officials, has been really mixed and I think there is already an inherent distrust of the government based on how polarized we’ve become,” Glanton said. “I don’t know that there’s ever been a time, that I can recall since I have been in medicine, that medical decisions and data have been scrutinized politically.”
Glanton said the current political climate regarding vaccinations appears to define those that believe in vaccinations as “liberals” and citizens that don’t believe in vaccinations as “conservatives.”
“I’m as conservative as they come, but when you see the data, you see that vaccinations help prevent severe illness and death,” Glanton said. “So, when you are trying to promote that (use of vaccines), you are not trying to promote an agenda. You are trying to protect the hospital system and trying to save lives.”
The local hospital system is already taxed. As of Friday afternoon, 42 COVID-19 patients were being treated at PRMC and the positivity rate of those being tested for the virus is climbing, reported at 18 percent.
“We are at almost half of our census (available beds). We already have a situation where it is extremely difficult to transfer people to a higher level of care if they need it,” Glanton said. “We’re not just talking about COVID, we are talking about non-COVID-related illnesses, because there are no hospital beds. We’re talking about heart attacks, strokes, post-stroke care and that’s what is really kind of frightening for the other folks that don’t have COVID.”
The Delta variant, Glanton said, is the predominant strain of the virus currently circulating and is much more contagious that the original strain, saying that it is estimated that every person with COVID-19 will infect six others, as opposed to the previous strain that panned out at an infection rate of two.
“I think we are at a crossroads with this pandemic. Given the infectivity of the current Delta variant, I believe you are either going to get the vaccination or you will get the infection,” Glanton said. “The decision you must make for yourself is … What are the risks of being unvaccinated vs. being vaccinated?”
Glanton said he hopes his research and data are helpful to local residents, who are struggling, confused and scared.
“I just felt like if you give reasonable people good information that they can trust, they are going to make a reasonable decision,” Glanton said. “If it helps one person make a decision to get vaccinated versus not, and prevents a severe illness or death, it was worth it. If you are looking at the numbers every day, it is pretty clear. There is no agenda. The only agenda is to get back to normal.”
Glanton said he has learned that colleagues have shared his written material with family members and that at least one person has changed their mind about getting vaccinated.