SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A new ad campaign by St. Joseph’s Candler meant to encourage vaccination for COVID-19 is sparking a debate.

The billboard on the corner of White Bluff and Abercorn has a phrase reading ‘We’re gaining patients. And losing patience.’ The message was meant to encourage others to get vaccinated, but some residents like Evie Hubbert don’t see it that way.

Hubbert’s husband lost his battle with COVID-19 earlier this month. Hubbert had this to say after seeing the billboard: “ I was driving down the street and sat down at the light,” Hubbert said. “I just sat there looking at it and thought to myself…although I understand the message and I understand the urgency of the message. It makes me feel uncomfortable because it’s not the right voice. It’s not the right message.”

The issue with Hubbert and others who commented on a Facebook post about the billboard seemed to find the wording of it uncomfortable.

WSAV reached out to the hospital who gave us this statement:

This campaign is meant to put a spotlight on several things – First, our caregivers in the region have been fighting this battle for more than 18 months. They are exhausted and disheartened.  They have done their part but they continue to be there for your our loved ones. 

Yet, more than half the people in our region have not done their part by getting vaccinated.

Secondly, hospitals throughout the country and our region are overrun with COVID cases and the majority of those people patients are unvaccinated. People are losing friends, parents, children and grandparents to an illness that is largely preventable or at the very least reduced in severity with the vaccine.

Hospitals need our region to get to a 70% vaccination rate and we believe that will prevent another catastrophic COVID spike in the future

This education campaign is meant to get the public’s attention; to tell the story from the caregivers perspective. It is designed to reflect how nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors and other co-workers feel.  They grieve for every patient lost.  They don’t want our patients to be another COVID statistic so we felt it was time the community heard from  those on the front line.

We recognize that the message might make some people uncomfortable. But it needed to be said, nonetheless. Many in our community have supported health-care workers since this pandemic began. You’ve sent food, words of support, virtual hugs and much, much more.

Now, we need you  to do one more thing: Be our hero. Get vaccinated. Because we #care4yall.

Mayor Van Johnson was asked about the response to the billboard in his weekly briefing and had this to say: “The time is over to play nice,” Johnson said. “The reality of the truth is that they are gaining patients and losing patience. So if you know speaking the truth makes someone decide to get vaccinated I say go for it.”