St. Charles President and CEO Joe Sluka on Friday reflected on the last two years of COVID in Central Oregon, thanking staff for their heroic work and the community for staying engaged throughout the pandemic.
You can read the full letter below:
Two years ago today, I sent out a message letting our community know that we had identified the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Central Oregon.
It was only the second community message related to COVID we had distributed to this email list — which has been a critical communication channel between St. Charles and the people we serve for more than 700 days.
As I reflect on all that has happened and in the many ways our world has changed over the past two years, I wanted to stop and thank you for being engaged. Every time one of these messages goes out, I am inundated with responses. It has been wonderful to know that you are reading, listening, learning and taking action based on the information we have shared.
In many ways, it is thanks to you that we have come so far.
While we still have COVID-19 patients in the hospital, the number of positive cases continues to decrease dramatically, and it feels as though we are finally putting the Omicron variant wave behind us.
As the state indoor mask mandate is lifted this weekend and we all start working our way back toward a new normal, I have just a few reminders to share:
- For the time being, masks will still be required in health care settings. This is for your protection and the protection of our caregivers. Please be prepared to follow our masking policy when visiting any St. Charles facility.
- While COVID numbers remain low, people will have the choice to wear a mask in other indoor environments like movie theaters, grocery stores and restaurants. Please be respectful of everyone’s individual choice and comfort level with masking. You never know when someone is immune compromised or simply feels safer with the mask on.
- The state mandate for health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 has not changed. St. Charles will continue to follow state and federal law.
- If you have not yet been vaccinated or boosted for COVID-19, it’s not too late. Vaccination continues to be the most important tool in keeping people from being hospitalized or dying from the virus.
- If you are feeling sick, stay home. Check our St. Charles website for current information and resources that will help you determine when a laboratory test for COVID-19 is necessary. Guidance on COVID-19 testing continues to change as we have more access to COVID-19 therapies and home testing kits.
Thank you, again, for taking the time to read and understand how your actions make a difference to our health care community. Although we’ll continue to keep the door open for further messages from the health system, it is my hope that we are entering a phase of the pandemic where the need for communication on COVID is much less frequent.
For a behind-the-scenes look at how our caregivers have endured the past two years, please watch this short video.
If you can, thank a health care worker and remind them that two years later they are still the heroes of this pandemic.