‘This is not social media hype’; United Regional officials release statement on COVID-19 vaccine

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Officials with United Regional Health Care System Thursday morning released a statement regarding the recent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

According to Phyllis Cowling, President and CEO of United Regional, said the overwhelming majority of hospitalized patients in this new wave are unvaccinated.

“90% of the COVID patients hospitalized at United Regional since July 1 have been unvaccinated,” Cowling said. “This is not social media hype; this is data from our own organization. If you’ve been hesitant, on the fence, regarding the vaccine, please consider this fact.”

Cowling went on to emphasize that current COVID-19 patients at United Regional are younger and sicker than those hospitalized in 2020.

“Relative youth is not a safeguard,” Cowling said. “In the past few days, we have witnessed the deaths of patients from their early 20’s to mid-40’s.”

Read the full statement from Patrick Johnston, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for United Regional below:

Over the past two months, United Regional’s COVID inpatient census has been steadily rising. As of this morning, August 19, there were 62 COVID positive patients in-house, compared with 18 on July 19, and 7 on June 19. The overwhelming majority of hospitalized patients in this new wave are unvaccinated.

“90% of the COVID patients hospitalized at United Regional since July 1 have been unvaccinated,” said Phyllis Cowling, President and CEO. “This is not social media hype; this is data from our own organization. If you’ve been hesitant, on the fence, regarding the vaccine, please consider this fact. Relative youth is not a safeguard. In the past few days, we have witnessed the deaths of patients from their early-20s to mid-40s.”       

The current COVID patients at United Regional are younger and sicker than those in 2020. Further, they are staying longer, which affects staffing, resources, and overall bed capacity.

“I know there are multiple viewpoints and sources of information that are contributing to vaccine hesitancy, and I realize there are political and cultural influences at play,” said Phyllis Cowling, “but I am also seeing the impact on our patients and our community.” Yesterday, United Regional denied the transfer of a (non-COVID) heart patient from one of the smaller hospitals in the region due to a lack of critical care capabilities. That hospital then contacted 15 hospitals throughout the state, none of which could accept their patient.

In addition to hospitalizations, volumes continue increasing within the Emergency Department and URPG clinic sites. As an example, on Monday morning by 10 a.m., URPG CarePlus had seen 72 patients – almost triple the normal volume, with a high percentage of those patients exhibiting COVID symptoms.

Please continue to be attentive to appropriate preventive measures. If you have not yet been vaccinated, please consider doing so as soon as possible. The vaccine, although not 100% protective, has proven to be highly safe and effective at virus prevention.

— Patrick Johnston, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, United Regional Health Care System

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