This opinion piece was written and submitted by Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County’s Executive Leadership team.
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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Daily, our staff, your friends and family members, are treating patients with COVID-19. It is a battle. We
need your help. The Delta variant is two times more contagious than previous variants and results in
more severe illness and hospitalizations. The patients admitted to our hospital with COVID-19 are the
youngest and the sickest we have seen during the pandemic. It is heartbreaking, frustrating, and
exhausting. It is also preventable. Talk to your doctor and learn about the vaccine and help us, but more
importantly, help yourself and get vaccinated.
Wyoming has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, with 38.2% fully vaccinated
as of Oct. 4, 2021. Sweetwater County’s vaccination rate is 35.4% as of Oct. 4, 2021. The low vaccination
rate has placed an extremely heavy burden on our staff and hospital. The number of critically ill COVID-
19 patients admitted to our hospital has increased from an average of three per day in August to 12 per
day in September. Most of these individuals are incredibly sick, and the overwhelming majority are
unvaccinated. The average daily census has increased from 11. 9 patients in August to 20.7 in
September. We are doing everything we can to manage the rapid increase in patients while caring for
our community’s ongoing, non-COVID-19 healthcare needs. Yet, despite these efforts, our hospital is
strained, and our staff is tired.
Did you know that getting vaccinated dramatically reduces the likelihood of contracting the virus, being
hospitalized, or dying?
If you have questions about the vaccine or are on the fence, call 307-352-8561 or contact your physician
to talk about the vaccine. According to an American Medical Association survey, more than 96% of
physicians nationwide are vaccinated because they know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
Each vaccine administered is a hospital bed saved for someone having a heart attack, a stroke, sepsis,
injury from a car accident, or other life-threatening illness.
Unfortunately, the reality is that hospitals in our region are overloaded, and it is becoming increasingly
difficult to transfer patients who require a higher level of care. We need to work together to ensure we
have beds available in our hospital for patients who need one.
We need your help. Help keep yourself and your loved ones safe by slowing the spread of the virus by
wearing a mask (especially if unvaccinated), physically distancing, and practicing proper hand hygiene.
If we practice all of these measures consistently, we can lower the transmission rate and reduce the
COVID-19 cases in our county.
As a hospital, we have worked to make vaccinations accessible and convenient. You can utilize our drive-
through in the front of the hospital to get a COVID-19 vaccination from 3-6 p.m. every Tuesday and
Amid this COVID-19 surge, we strongly encourage our community not to delay essential and emergency
care. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911 or come to the Emergency Department. If your
condition is less severe and not life-threatening, consider seeking care and treatment at our walk-in
clinic, an urgent care, or your primary care provider.
We are concerned about how the upcoming weeks will unfold in Sweetwater County. Our healthcare
professionals have worked tirelessly to serve our community through the many months of the
pandemic. We commend them for their dedication during this unprecedented challenge.
We long for the day when this pandemic is behind us. But, unfortunately, the only way we will get there
is to all do our part to protect ourselves. Vaccination is the primary way that we can avoid overwhelming
our healthcare system here at home and in our region.
We encourage you to act now on behalf of our healthcare heroes at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater
County. Please get vaccinated today. Don’t let yourself or someone you love be the next victim of
Irene Richardson, Chief Executive Officer
Ann Clevenger, Chief Nursing Officer
Dr. Melinda Poyer, Chief Medical Officer
Kari Quickenden, Chief Clinical Officer
Tami Love, Chief Financial Officer