FHN Experts: Please Do Your Part to Help Stop Spread of COVID-19

December 20, 2021 – FHN President and CEO Mark Gridley MBA, FACHE and Chief Hospitalist Clarence Parks MD ask that everyone in our communities do their part to help stop COVID-19, including following mitigation measures and getting vaccinated and boosted.

“The decisions we make have an impact not only on us, but on our community,” Dr. Parks said. “We're all tired of COVID-19 and have let our guards down a bit, but we need to be vigilant about washing and sanitizing our hands, wearing masks in indoor or crowded spaces, and social distancing “ and getting vaccinated or boosted against the virus.”

FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport, like all hospitals across the region, continues to see an increasing number of COVID-19 patients, but some of the demographics have changed.

“The length of stay of patients with COVID-19 has shifted from approximately 7 days to as long as one or two months,” Dr. Parks said. “Also, the age of the patients we're seeing has changed. At the beginning of the pandemic, our COVID-19 patients averaged 60 to 75 years old. Now, we are seeing younger patients “ people in their 30s, 20s, or 50s.”

The overwhelming majority of those hospitalized, and of those being treated in the ICU, are unvaccinated, Dr. Parks said.

FHN Memorial Hospital began sharing COVID-19 statistics on social media Dec. 15. Last week, 40 percent of the patients hospitalized at FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport were being treated for COVID-19, and 87 percent of those patients were unvaccinated. (Information is shared as percentages only to guard patient privacy.)

The increase in COVID-19 activity continues to put stress on healthcare workers, Gridley said. “Some of our caring team members are working extra hours and others have come out of retirement to help take care of our patients. We're very grateful to them, and hope everyone will appreciate how hard they are working to help their communities.”

Despite the rising number of patients, FHN has not stopped offering routine care or elective procedures. “People continue to get sick and deal with ongoing health issues, even during a pandemic,” Gridley said. “If we delay the care they need, whether it's a doctor's visit or a procedure, they aren't going to get better on their own. In some cases, not getting the care you need can prolong pain or suffering, and we don't want that to happen,” Gridley said.

People shouldn't hesitate to see their healthcare provider for checkups, minor issues and routine testing, Gridley said. All of FHN's Family Healthcare Centers and Specialty Care Centers are open and ready to help.

Gridley and Dr. Parks urge people to gather safely for the holiday. “Gathering with loved ones is so important, but please help to protect family members, friends, and neighbors by getting vaccinated or boosted, wearing a mask in large groups or inside, and being mindful of social distancing,” Gridley said. “We wish everyone in our communities a healthy, safe, happy 2022.”

View this COVID-19 video update and learn more about how FHN is working to help stop the spread of COVID-19 at www.fhn.org/coronavirus.