Jeanie Judge

 Jeanie Judge an RN in the Avera St. Anthony’s Hospital Operating Rooms, helps with monoclonal antibody infusions.

As we roll into the holiday's one gift, we can give each other is the gift of safety by just wearing a mask.

We have all heard everyone's argument for not wearing one. The mask makes it hard for me to breathe; masks don't do any good; Covid is just a conspiracy.

Well the statistics give a grim outlook. One hundred forty thousand people have had this disease and 1,213 people have died because of Covid in the State of Nebraska and 216 loved ones in the last seven days.

Not everyone is getting sick like everyone else and this is hard for us as a society to understand and comprehend. We are so used to having the answers handed to us instantaneously and when the science hasn't caught up with us, we all turn to might be answers put on the internet, whether it be the truth or a partial truth or what we want to hear.

While we live our lives guessing on our safety by not wearing a mask, we are putting pressure on the one thing we all take for granted, and that is the infrastructure of health care.

Everything in health care works great until it doesn't. Administrators and health care workers are starting to feel the strain. Health care workers have been taking extra precautions since last March and feel the pressure every day of the week at work.

"We have been shifting staff to fill spots with watching the door as well as the above and beyond demands of keeping the hospital areas and treatment rooms disinfected with more demands on staff to complete this task," said Avera CEO Todd Consbruck.

"Many hospitals in the area are getting close to capacity, which is of great concern to all of us. Avera has been shifting patients from its larger hospitals to the smaller facilities to make room for more Covid-care. Creighton has taken patients from Yankton just last week to free up bed space," said Consbrock.

"We currently have five rooms here that we have devoted to Covid as a wing. We had to put up a temporary divider to make the change but if it was needed and we could go as high as another ten beds if we would have to," said Nursing Director Amy Langan.

It takes more staff to deal with a covid-patient and we have already asked staff that doesn't work on the floor typically to fill in. I am so proud of our staff for picking up the slack and filling in where needed. The med surg and specialty clinic nurses as well as other staff have been great in volunteering and getting jobs done that are not their usual jobs," said Langan.

" I am a firm believer in masks and can't stress enough that mask-wearing is going to make a difference," said Dr. Josh Thoendel.

"I have been treating Covid patients regularly and have worn a mask while in contact with all of those folks and I have not contracted it so the mask must be doing something," said Dr. Thoendel.

We need to keep wearing the mask for a while longer and do a better job of getting others to wear theirs. Those of you who are wearing your mask are doing an excellent job in preventing the spread of the disease. Those of you who aren't wearing a mask please consider even though it is your choice, be aware that you, even a healthy individual, can still carry the virus and accidentally transmit it to your loved ones or someone else that may have an underlying health issue that will have trouble with the disease resulting in long term illness or worse, death."

The new hope that many are hoping will put an end to this madness is the promise of a vaccine. The medical community is hoping that the FDA will approve the emergency provisions to begin vaccinations. A couple of the vaccines require two shots approximately 24 or so days apart. The plan according to state sources is to vaccinate health care workers and first responders first and then the most vulnerable such as nursing homes and people at high risk. The vaccine could be administered to workers this month at the earliest. Mainstream vaccination could be started by early spring for the general population.

Hopefully by summer we can all go to graduations and our children can enjoy the simpler things like prom and track meets. These are things that can only be brought about by taking care of you and your family and the use of a mask.

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