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A Moment of Reflection: Commemorating one year battling the pandemic

Today, in unity, we are taking a moment to commemorate the courage and sacrifice of the patients, employees, family members, community members, those lost to the virus, and the profound impact we’re continuing to experience. March 11, marks the day SVMC identified the first known person in Tulare County to test positive for COVID-19 in the year of 2020. At noon, many of our employees will be outdoors in a socially distanced fashion, in front of the iconic Sierra View glass windows, as one of our Chaplaincy members says a few words and our fearless leader, President and CEO, Donna Hefner also addresses this day of reflection.

This time last year, we knew the symptoms of COVID were flu-like and that the then-new virus was spreading quickly throughout the world and had now arrived to Porterville. What we didn’t know was the impact the devastating virus would have on the way we delivered health care and the way we went about our daily lives. One year later, we continue to be united in the fight against it.

To date, we have seen our staff completely overhaul our emergency department and expand capacity as needed throughout the hospital’s floors, and even into a non-clinical room. Countless changes to processes changed including the visitor policy, down to new screening and cleaning requirements. We have met the challenge of procuring necessary supplies and PPE. At all times our frontline staff and teams were ready to quickly re-route as needed, all with a common goal in mind: keeping our patients and staff safe.

Internally, our vaccination efforts have given SVMC frontline staff better protection against the virus and has allowed us to administer more than 1,000 vaccines. In the last year, SVMC has tested upwards of 19,000 individuals for COVID-19; 8,000 people of our community and surrounding areas, were tested from our SVMC Drive-Thru COVID Testing Site, operated by our Lab; SVMC has cared for more than 800 COVID hospitalized patients; SVMC has seen 158 deaths related to COVID alone in the last year; there has been 776 deaths in Tulare County, in which 20% of those total deaths were at SVMC; Deaths in the U.S. are at more than half a million and the world has lost more than 2.5 million lives to COVID.

With the vaccine’s arrival and a year’s worth of learning and progress in the way we care for our COVID patients, we are much better equipped now to continue fighting this pandemic until the day when we can look back and reflect on a pandemic we’ve overcome. For now, we continue showing up and putting forth the best versions of ourselves. We’re moving in the right direction, as more people get vaccinated, and as ICU capacities open up, a glimmer of hope starts to light the way for 2021.

We are grateful that we are emerging from this pandemic stronger together. As we navigate this path to better days, we want to remind our community and those that we care for to continue to wash your hands frequently and to socially distance just a while longer. There are better days ahead, and if we work together we will get to them sooner.

This post was written in collaboration with our President and CEO, Donna Hefner.