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Letter to the Editor: It’s time to come together to end COVID-19

Your community needs your help! 

For the first time, the local health systems across Athens, Fairfield, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Madison, Mason (West Virginia), Meigs, Noble, Pickaway, Ross, Scioto, Vinton and Washington counties are coming together to ask for your help. 

With the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, our hospitals, emergency departments, and urgent cares are hitting record numbers. Many of the patients requiring hospitalization are experiencing a higher degree of illness than we have seen in the past. This is taking a toll on our associates. We are concerned with what the coming weeks will bring. We want to continue to provide the care our patients need and when and where they need it. 

What we are experiencing is very real. It isn’t a political issue; it’s a medical issue. When we look at our patient data, a vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients have not received the COVID-19 vaccine. 

COVID-19 does not discriminate. It impacts all ages, races and sexes. The virus will spread — even to those who are healthy. We do have ways to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and brace against a full-blown infection. You CAN use a mask AND, if you are 12 and older, get VACCINATED. 

We need your help to protect yourself and your loved ones. 

At times, we are all asked to put others before ourselves. During the pandemic, our call is no different. Using our knowledge of science and compassion to help others, we ask that you act soon. Help us change the trajectory of COVID-19 for our communities by protecting yourself and your loved ones. 

By masking and becoming fully vaccinated, we will be able to drastically slow down the rate of spread and, ultimately, COVID-19’s potential exposure to you. 

Our communities have experienced so much loss due to COVID-19. As our teams console families who have lost loved ones, we have heard many say, “We never expected COVID-19 to create such heartache and loss.” Sadly, this loss has moved some to become vaccinated themselves. 

Historically, our respective county residents have band together during times of struggle. That’s what we love about the resiliency and grit. Whether it was a fire, tornado or flood, you have stepped up to support one another in times of crisis. We ask that you do that again. Our communities are in crisis. We ask that you rally together and extend grace instead of being divided. The leaders of your community hospital are joining hands to fight for our community’s health. Please join us for the betterment of your loved ones and our communities.

Jeff Graham, President & CEO, Adena Health System

J. Scott Cantley, President & CEO, Memorial Health System

John R. “Jack” Janoso, President & CEO, Fairfield Medical Center

Tim Colburn President & CEO, OhioHealth Berger Hospital

Stacey Gabriel, President & CEO, Hocking Valley Community Hospital

LeeAnn Helber, President, OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital

Michael Canady, President & CEO, Holzer Health System

Ben Gill, President & CEO, Southern Ohio Medical Center

Dana Engle, CEO, Madison Health

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