NRMC: Letter to the Community

DATE: November 19, 2020

TO: The Greater Natchitoches Community

FROM: Kirk Soileau, MHA, FACHE
Chief Executive Officer

Phyllis Mason, MD, MPH/ACA, FACHE
Chief Medical Officer

RE: COVID-19 Pandemic

Fellow Community Members,

This morning, Dr. Mason and I participated on a statewide call with the Governor, the LA Secretary of Health and the Louisiana Hospital Association Tier 1 facilities, of which NRMC is one, regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare organizations today.

As the pandemic progressed throughout the state starting in February, the Greater Natchitoches Area did not experience the rate of transmission, as did other regions during the first phase. However, with more community movement and an increase in social gatherings, we were impacted in the second phase with an increase in hospitalizations and deaths directly attributed to the virus. However, what is concerning is the fact that our state health region, region 7, starting at Natchitoches Parish progresses north to encompass all of Shreveport and Bossier, to the Texas line and east, basically splitting the upper part of the state with Monroe (region 8), continues to have one of the highest positivity rates in the state.

Now, since Halloween weekend and numerous large social gatherings, the case rate throughout the state is growing faster than at the onset of the pandemic last winter. Compounding this concern is the fact that we are in the middle of a national nursing shortage affecting every hospital in Louisiana. Today COVID-19 hospital admission growth throughout the state is at an all-time high. If this trajectory continues, the health system will be overwhelmed. The state and national concern with Thanksgiving next week, followed by Christmas, we will see continued positivity growth due to indoor family gatherings.

Together, we can slow the spread of the COVID-19 Virus. But, we must continue to maintain the basic principles established by the CDC: Social Distancing, Wear a mask at all times in public and frequent hand washing and hand sanitation.

As you may have heard, we anticipate two vaccines becoming available for distribution before the end of the year. (see attached FAQs) This is great news! However, it will take nearly all of 2021 to have the nation vaccinated at numbers large enough to mitigate transmission spread. Thus, we anticipate that the pandemic will not be in our rearview mirror until this time next year.

If you have questions or comments, please refer to our website at or ask your questions on a Facebook page.

• Does the vaccine protect against COVID-19?
Yes. It appears to be 95% effective protecting people ages 18 and older with at least one symptom.
Out of 170 subjects who developed Covid-19 with a symptom, 162 were on a placebo. Only 8 had received the vaccine.
This result was consistent across ages 18 years to 85 years, races and ethnic groups.

• Is the vaccine safe?
So far, it looks generally safe.
The most frequent severe side effect was fatigue in 3.8% of the volunteers who fell ill, while 2% reported headaches.
But that data isn’t enough to establish the safety of the vaccine.

• When will the vaccine become available?
As soon as next month.
It is estimated that 50 million doses globally can be produced by the end of the year. This is enough for 25 million people because the vaccine requires 2 doses.
This means that only the highest-risk groups, such as front-line health care workers, could be inoculated this year.

• When can I get it?
A National Academy of Medicine panel recommended:
First in line – doctors, nurses, and other front-line workers
Second in line – people whose health conditions put them at high risk of developing severe Covid-19, elderly people in nursing homes and people in prisons.
Third in line – teachers and transportation workers.
Health authorities expect the general public could get vaccinated in the spring or summer.

• What don’t we know?
Aside from an incomplete safety profile, it is not known how long any protection the vaccine provides will last.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

One thought on “NRMC: Letter to the Community

  1. Thanks, NRMC, for this information. There’s nothing better than facts when it comes to conquering our fear of the unknown.

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