Are we done yet? There’s no question that most of us are behaving as if the pandemic has run its course. Emotionally, we’re certainly finished with it. Two years is more than long enough, in our minds, to fight a virus. As I was watching the Masters golf tournament this weekend, I was astonished to see no masks (OK, maybe 2) worn by spectators crowded into the stands. Yes, they were outdoors, but they were in very close proximity, as were those in the stands at the NCAA basketball championship games held during the past few weeks. We’re done.
But are we? Vermont has the highest per-capita rate of COVID-19 in the U.S. right now, and it’s very hard to see this as a positive, but it absolutely is. Vermont’s response to COVID-19 has been a textbook case of successful flattening of the pandemic curve. Looking back at the past two years, we did have a period during which our hospitals were at capacity, but it was brief, and Vermont’s death rate from Covid remains the second lowest, after Hawaii. The BA.2 variant of Omicron has hit the Northeast harder than other areas of the country, but it hasn’t led to an increased death rate, and the hospitalization rate from this variant is still low. We continue to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, and this has been the key factor in flattening the COVID curve.
What will it take to get us through this home stretch of the pandemic? The season is in our favor – as more of us spend time outside, the virus has a harder time spreading from one person to another. Ventilation is a key factor in the prevention of transmission of any airborne disease such as COVID-19.
I would also like to suggest, as the days get longer and the weather warms up, that an attitude of gratitude can make all the difference. All of us have something to be grateful for, even when there are inevitable challenges and adversity in our lives.
The importance of gratitude is at the top-of-mind for me at the moment because of important feedback we’ve been getting from patients. “When I was an inpatient at Grace Cottage recently, after having been at many other hospitals, what stood out for me is overhearing how often employees would thank one another. It didn’t matter whether it was a housekeeper, nurse, therapist, doctor, or dietary person, they were all helping each other out and thanking one another. I guarantee you – you don’t hear this these days, at other hospitals or anywhere else!”
Indeed, as we begin to renew our social routines or begin new ones, there’s never been a more important time to say “thank you.” It will make others, and you, feel uplifted; I guarantee it.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our employees here at Grace Cottage who have preserved, even strengthened, our culture of kindness, sensitivity, and compassion throughout what has probably been the most challenging period in our 73-year history. Their true colors shine through and our patients, our Board of Trustees, and our community notice and appreciate this.
Doug DiVello, President & CEO
Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital
P.S. If you’re looking for a way to get out, have some fun, and get some exercise while supporting a great cause, sign up for our Spring into Health 5K (to be held in Townshend on Saturday, May 7), our Tee It Up for Health golf benefit at Haystack Golf Club on Saturday, June 11, or Tour de Grace bicycle ride on Saturday, June 25. Whether you’re a walker, runner, golfer, or bicycle rider, we’ve got the event for you!