CEDAR CITY, Utah — Cedar City Hospital has released a statement in support of the Governor's Executive Order which pleads with the community to follow state mandates for wearing a mask.
“In the past we have been lightly touched this week our ICU has been full” LynAnn Imlay, co-writer of the letter and Vice Chair Cedar City Hospital Board of Trustees said in an interview with FOX13.
Cedar City Hospital is feeling the effects of rising COVID-19 cases now more than ever because they are no longer able to transfer patients to other, bigger hospitals because of the overall low ICU capacity.
“We can line the hospitals with beds… that doesn’t take care of patients we need healthcare providers to be healthy” Imlay told us.
She also shared how COVID-19 has personally impacted her life as her father is currently in the hospital in Arizona because of complications from COVID-19.
She told us about the night she drove him to the hospital saying in part “they said he absolutely needed to be admitted but there were no beds and so during the night at some point he was given an ICU bed and treatments for COVID-19” She went on to describe it by saying “the feeling that I heard when there was no beds for my father was one of just real sadness.”
Imlay told us that she understands and accepts that issues other have brought up in opposition of the mandate such as mental health, economic factors, and personal well-being are valid points.
However, she and those speaking for the hospital feel it right to support the governor's executive orders saying “I think the governor has done such a fine job of walking that line” adding more about why they wrote the letter by saying “one more time… one more way one more voice or letter maybe it will make a difference.”
Others in Iron County, mainly the Sheriff Kenneth Carpenter have opposed the mandate saying in part “We don’t really believe that this is entirely the right solution” “If our store owners and citizens wish to follow those mandates, that’s their choice. But health care is a personal decision and shouldn’t be a government mandate.”
Sheriff Carpenter spoke with FOX13 earlier this week coming out and saying that he would “not” enforce the new statewide mask mandate implemented on November 8.
He later clarified his statement in a letter which also blamed rising domestic violence crimes, murders and suicides on state mandates imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carpenter reaffirmed he would not enforce the mandate, but went on to say the rise in violent crimes in his jurisdiction appear to be linked to previous mandates imposed in Utah.
Saying in part "I believe these are the unintended consequences of mandates that have caused many to experience depression or other mental health disorders and have led to over four times the number [of] deaths attributed to COVID-19.”
Today Sheriff Carpenter reached out to FOX13’s Spencer Joseph and said in a message “While I support Cedar City Hospital in encouraging the citizens of Iron County to be respectful of others and wear masks and social distance in order to protect our families and neighbors, I have no desire of being interviewed.”
The statement from the hospital is as follows:
We write this open letter to the community we serve, to voice our strong support of the Governor's mandate for masking and social distancing.
We have a very diverse hospital board; each volunteer leader is tasked with providing our award-winning community hospital with vision and direction. While we differ in experience and perspective, we are all fully united in this: ensuring the health, safety, wellness, and protection of our entire community.
Recently, Governor Gary Herbert enacted a public health safety measure requiring masks to be worn and asking for social distancing, among other protective measures, to slow the spread of COVID-19.
This is not a time for fear. But this is not a time for complacency, either. We implore you to support the Governor’s mandates of masking and social distancing. Why is doing this so important to Cedar City Hospital? It’s true that Cedar City Hospital continues to operate normally and be a safe place to get the care you need. We have prepared extensively for COVID with needed supplies, training and support. (As a reminder: please do not delay or deny your own healthcare, either ongoing care, scheduled annual well-checks, or emergency care, and use the free COVID-19 emotional health hotline if needed: 833-442-2211.)
The reason the mandate is important is: Iron County is not an island in the state of Utah. When a patient comes to a smaller hospital like ours needing specialized care, we first stabilize the patient, then send them to larger hospitals that have specialized equipment, training, and experienced providers to provide the best care. Connecting patients with complex needs to the specific equipment and providers needed, is “best practice" throughout all of the Intermountain Hospital systems.
As larger hospitals reach capacity, they now no longer have beds and staff available to care for those transferred patients, COVID or non-COVID. Cedar City Hospital is one car wreck on I-15 or local flu outbreak away from a full ICU at our small hospital. Even pre-COVID, patient numbers can fluctuate sharply and sometimes suddenly spike, with dozens of patients flooding the hospital in as short as an hour’s time. When you have more patients than beds and staff to care for them, then what? That is what the Governor wants to avoid. The mandate is an attempt to slow the numbers of people who require hospital care simultaneously.
Another important point as to why we should keep the spread slow are caregivers, who are the backbone and true heroes of our hospital, and are carrying extraordinarily stressful and heavy burdens. Any time anyone, like a doctor, nurse, housekeeping, or respiratory therapist enters or leaves a COVID-19 patient room, it takes 3-5 minutes to put on their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including a respirator and disposable gown and gloves, and another 3-5 minutes to take it all off and sanitize. It may surprise you to learn each must do this up to 30-50 times in one shift. That is one element of many, and all this in addition to attending to the other patients and their needs. If we slow the spread, we spread out the high-demand, stress, and time-consuming responsibilities it takes to provide care to a COVID-19 patient. The caregivers at our hospital are our neighbors, friends, maybe even family members. They are a finite group of experienced, prepared, skilled professionals. When we wear masks and socially distance, they in turn will be healthy and available to do their job.
While there are many arguments out there, the science is clear: masking slows the spread. Keeping a social distance is also proven to help slow the spread. The science is also clear: you may not feel sick, but you could very likely be carrying COVID anyway. And the only way masking works is if most people do it.
We are asking you to do it. Please join with us, along with religious leaders, community leaders, medical professionals, and more, in setting the example to wear your mask anywhere in public, and socially distance. Gathering in large groups at a time of a worldwide pandemic is simply unwise. We can each recognize that fact, whether or not the Governor points it out to us in the form of a mandate.
Please do the right thing for your family, for your neighborhood, for our community and for our hospital. Please slow the spread so we have access to the specialized care we need and help lift the burden our healthcare providers are carrying right now. It’s a humble, kind, supportive thing to do. Our economic health depends on it, our emotional health depends on it, and for some, their very lives depend on our doing this.
Cedar City Hospital Governing Board Vice-Chair LynAnn Imlay
Cedar City Hospital Administrator and CEO Eric Packer