By Hugh Qualls
Hospital Administrator

Ready or not, a new year is knocking on the door. After the past 22 months, we can certainly hope it will be a better year than the present but given the COVID track record to date, cautiously optimistic. This column has devoted much ink since start of epidemic on the best course of action for us all to follow in order to end the crisis. Most are doing whatever possible (wearing a mask, avoiding crowded indoor gatherings, getting vaccinated) to put an end to this nightmare. But we are where we are now (omicron variant) because some folks refuse to take any precautions, which promotes the perfect environment for viruses to mutate and adapt. That’s what a virus does best— adapt and survive! Our lack of unified effort has only strengthened the bug. Time has been wasted fighting amongst ourselves—and the virus has taken advantage of that opportunity. Maybe 2022 will be the year we put aside our differences and work together to defeat this latest variant (and prevent future ones). One can always hope.

On a cheerier note, hospital project planned for 2022 is construction of a new outpatient physical therapy building, complete with a spacious gym, offices and exam rooms. The proposal will soon be reviewed by our good friends at the William N. Pennington Foundation in Reno. We held a proposal call with them earlier this month, and they were quite positive about the project. As any PT OP knows, not much room in our tiny gym (converted office spaces in the ancient Annex Building). The recent wet weather motivated us to pursue a new building posthaste; rain and snow accumulation on the leaky roof confirmed the adage “when it rains, it pours.” Pour it did indoors: buckets, pots and pans, and anything else that could hold water filled quickly. Great fun for PT staff! No one will be more delighted with a new building than our PT teams.

Visitors welcome! Cannot thank enough the family, friends and community members who have stopped by the hospital or nursing home lately to visit with patients and residents. We had some concerns about opening up to visitors but it has gone well so far (no outbreaks). While life has mostly returned to normal here, some safety measures remain. We will continue to have just a single point of entry through the Emergency Entrance, which enables us to screen everyone before they enter the hospital or the SNF. No matter your purpose for visiting, we appreciate your compliance with these safety measures: screening, mask wearing, and stay away if you have flu/COVID symptoms. We encourage those unvaccinated to get tested whenever possible and of course, think again about getting the shot.

Vaccines For Children (VFC) program will remain at the Community Health Nurse’s office—contrary to what was announced in this column last month. Things turn on a dime around here! As many of you know already, the hospital’s Director of Nursing (DON) Tamiya Ferguson is leaving us to return to her prior job as the Community Health Nurse. We miss her already and regret to see her move on but her commitment to public health will continue in this role—vitally important to Mineral County. She will oversee VFC beginning in January. In the meantime, we are actively pursuing a new DON for the hospital and expect to announce a selection soon. Stay tuned.

Santa Claus and his elves made a surprise stopover at the nursing home last week; jolly St. Nick brought presents for residents, but more importantly, he brought smiles and cheer to all in attendance. No matter your age, always good to believe in Santa and the joy this season brings.

My New Year’s resolution is a simple one: wishing all a healthy, COVID-free 2022. Together, we can make that happen.