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Frustration grows at Lubbock hospitals as unvaccinated COVID-19 patients increase

UMC Health System COVID-19 ICU unit
UMC Health System COVID-19 ICU unit(Source: KCBD)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:14 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - As cases of COVID-19 increase on the South Plains, Lubbock hospitals are once again admitting patients who administrators say are virtually all unvaccinated. UMC Health System has gone from one COVID-19 patient in July to 30 on Wednesday while Covenant Health officials report going from a single digit number of patients to as many as 40 in just two weeks.

“I think there is a lot of emotional anguish over this,” UMC Health System CMO Dr. Mike Ragain said. “Folks are concerned, frustrated a little bit that there are some remedies out there that we could avail ourselves to as a community but many folks are choosing not to. Of course, I’m talking about immunization.”

Ragain told KCBD only two admissions in the last month have been vaccinated and neither of them have needed to be moved to ICU. He said that one medical ICU is nearly full with COVID-19 patients and with other needs for ICU beds they are constantly searching for them.

“Those folks who are not getting immunized, it’s very frustrating because the data is really clear that the immunizations are safe,” Ragain said. “They are safe and they are effective, including being effective for the Delta variant.”

Dr. Craig Rhyne, the CMO of Covenant Health, said the only vaccinated patient in their facilities experienced immune suppression.

“We have a very powerful set of vaccines that can prevent severe disease and hospitalizations,” Rhyne said. “It’s so frustrating for [caretakers] to have to fight these battles all over again just because people refuse to listen to the science and just because people refuse to take a vaccine that has been proven to be so powerful and so effective.”

He said the reluctance to be vaccinated will be a barrier to all health care in the area.

“We are back at a very, very high census level,” Rhyne said. “It’s impacting our ability to take care of other patients such as trauma patients, stroke patients, cancer patients. It is impacting virtually everything we do.”

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