Hendrick's Community Safety Dial moves to 'critical' level

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Community Safety Dial

Hendrick Health’s six-level COVID-19 Community Safety Dial has been moved to Level 5: Critical on its Facebook page, showing 77 hospitalizations in Abilene and 16 in Brownwood on Wednesday.

The dial was moved Tuesday to Level 5 for the first time in six months, after moving from Monday’s Level 4: Severe.

Also Tuesday, the Brownwood/Brown County Health Department reported 93 new Brown County cases since Aug. 6, with 219 total active cases.

Eighty-eight percent of the COVID patients in Hendrick hospitals were not fully vaccinated, and 94.4 percent of the hospitals’ ICU patients were not fully vaccinated, the Hendrick Health Facebook page stated.

Susan Greenwood, system vice president and chief nursing of Hendrick Health, spoke with the media via  Zoom for the second time in less than a week Wednesday.

“The fear is that if we don’t signal the community what’s going on, then they can’t take appropriate reactions to that,” Greenwood said. “What this means for the hospital is that we are needing to restrict visitation down further. So we are at one visitor at a time for all patients, with the exception being pediatrics so that they can have parents there, and also in end-of-life situations.”

Greenwood reiterated her earlier statements about vaccination, saying “the biggest thing we can do as a community” is get vaccinated.

“Unlike the previous time when we moved our safety dial up, there was really nothing we could do but shut down our economy, stay in our houses and mask if we went out. We don’t have to do that this time. We do need to wear a mask right now because unfortunately with the delta variant, it is very contagious. But that’s only because we don’t have our community vaccinated.

“If we simply all got the vaccine, we could block this virus from our region. And that’s really the message that we want to send the community.”

A vaccinated community would cause the virus “to simply hit a brick wall” and die out, Greenwood said.

“But because we haven’t all gotten vaccinated, it’s learning from the host that it infects and it continues to be around,” she said.

“Every host that it works through, it can learn and it mutates. And that’s how these variants happen, and that’s the reason that COVID is not leaving us. 

When asked what advice she’d offer to young people who fear the vaccine, Greenwood said, “I understand that, and I think there’s more and more evidence out there to alleviate the fear. But what we are seeing so far from the vaccine is, possibly up to 24 hours of pain in the arm, pain in the injection site, fatigue, a little bit of fever, and that of course is concerning to people. But the longterm effects that we’re seeing from COVID should scare them more.”

Greenwood said Hendrick Health has an outpatient screening clinic, and 20 to 25 percent of those tested the past week have been positive.

“That’s as opposed to as low as 2, 3, 5 percent when we were not really in a high uptick of cases. So one in every four being tested right now are positive through the Hendrick Health System and we have a growing number of a active cases in the community.

“So we want the community to take action. We need to get vaccinated so that we don’t allow this COVID virus to mutate. We all need to get vaccinated so we can shut it down out of our region.”