MVHS nursing staff appeals to community for kindness, patience

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In a Wednesday press conference, Mohawk Valley Health System nursing staff appealed to the community for kindness and patience when visiting the hospital for healthcare.

This, a move they say is necessary as acts of violence against healthcare workers has dramatically risen and have been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, healthcare workers were hailed as frontline heroes and received a tremendous amount of active support from the community … Now, two years later, our healthcare workers are subject to increasing aggression and mistrust,” said Varinya Sheppard, chief nursing officer at MVHS.

Wednesday, MVHS nursing staff said the community’s stress and emotional toll from the pandemic is evident, and may be driving some of the aggression toward healthcare employees. Many times in the last year, situations - which include patients screaming at and striking healthcare workers - have escalated to the point where hospital security or local police have been involved.

“It’s been an exhausting two years,” said Avinash Kambhampati, the vice chairperson of emergency medicine at MVHS, “We just ask that the public be understanding. We’re trying the best that we can.”

Kambhampati added that in the past year, the acts of bullying, assault and rude behavior have escalated causing many longtime nurses to reassess if they want to continue in the healthcare field. 

“Nurses are being worn down,” he said. 

Information provided by MVHS notes the American Psychiatric Association found that eight out of 10 Americans said the pandemic has created significant stress in their life.

Among those speaking on behalf of MVHS nursing staff were Les Congdon, a relief charge nurse in the ER, who said his face was scratched and dug in multiple places recently by an emergency room patient who was irate over wait times in the ER.

MVHS healthcare workers asked those seeking care and treatment at the hospital to consider staffing shortages that are ongoing as a factor in decisions being made in treatment priorities.

Numbers

There were 165 COVID-19-related deaths across New York and the statewide seven-day average positivity infection rate was measured at 14.27%, according to information from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office.

In a daily statement, "We are continuing to turn the corner against the winter surge thanks to New Yorkers getting vaccinated, boosted and masking up … But we can't let our guard down and undo all of the progress we've made. Please keep wearing your masks and make sure you get your vaccination or booster as soon as possible."

On Tuesday, there were 352 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Oneida County and three new virus-related deaths.

There were also 80 Oneida County residents hospitalized. Of that figure, 32 were unvaccinated and 48 were vaccinated. Further, 55 people were hospitalized in the Mohawk Valley Health System, nine at Rome Health and 16 outside the county.

In a Wednesday report from Madison County, there were 131 new positive cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths. There were 286 active cases of the virus.

COVID-19 information links

• New York State’s COVID-19 data has been collected in one online spot at: https://on.ny.gov/3rw82oG

• In Oneida County, vaccine appointments and walk-ins are available at county-operated sites. To book an appointment, visit www.ocgov.net.

• Scheduling a vaccine appointment can also be completed at: vaccines.gov.

• COVID-19 case numbers and vaccination rates are available on Oneida County’s online Dashboard at: https://bit.ly/3A85tLp

• To see COVID-19 information for Madison County, visit: https://on.ny.gov/3je8vr0

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