SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler gave a sobering assessment of the hospital’s COVID-19 situation and pleaded with residents to get vaccinated.
“If there’s one thing that everyone can do, please get vaccinated,” said Paul Hinchey, St. Joseph’s/Candler CEO. “Let’s do it for the sake of the community, it’s not a racial thing, it’s not a [political] thing, it’s not a financial thing, it’s just being a good Savannahian in Chatham County so we all can take care of each other.”
Currently, Chatham County is seeing record highs in hospitalizations, new daily cases and community transmission. Hinchey said the hospital is discharging between 15-20 patients daily and around 10 COVID patients replace them.
Hinchey also says future health risks and side effects of the novel virus can’t possibly be known because of its novelty.
“You’ve got to worry about your DNA being affected by the COVID virus, it’s too new,” said Hinchey. “Your immunity system could be altered because of that.”
He also described the emergency room as a war zone, saying 20 COVID patients are waiting for beds on stretchers, at any given time. Hinchey said 88% of the hospitalized patients are unvaccinated and the remaining 12% that are vaccinated, have co-morbidities such as being diabetic, recent cancer survivors or currently receiving chemotherapy.
Hinchey also said the average age of hospitalized patients is now 54. That’s a drop of around 10 to 12 years, previously seen before vaccines were readily available. For local vaccine information, click or tap here.
Hinchey says his health care workers “feel betrayed” by the county’s unvaccinated. Currently, 43% of residents are fully vaccinated and nearly a half have received one dose.
“The caregivers are not only frustrated, they feel betrayed … and the reason they feel betrayed is they can’t get their arms around the fact that the vaccination rate is not higher than it is in the community,” Hinchey said. He also said current trends lead the hospital to believe it needs around 55 more registered nurses by October.
Beginning Tuesday, the hospital will not allow any visitors.
Hinchey said social distancing, mask-wearing and most importantly getting vaccinated, can help prevent serious COVID illness. He urged residents to take COVID seriously and not disregard safety precautions.
“You’ll have regrets, years from now and why have regrets when something can be done about it,” Hinchey said. “[Life’s] a gift, don’t play Russian Roulette with it.”