picture by: Robert A. DeFrank
Health officials, the medical community, and the people they serve have much to be grateful for as the severity of COVID-19 lessens.
East Ohio Regional Hospital physician assistant Maggie Hodge recalls the nature of hospital operations at the height of the pandemic.
“Obviously opening this hospital during a pandemic was a bit interesting, but I have to say our staff picked up something great. I’m proud of the whole hospital, that’s for sure. They did a great job to caring for the community during COVID. I’m really grateful that this holiday season seems to be a bit milder,” she said. “I think we’re all taking a bit more precautions. … Wash them hands, if they are sick, stay home. We are very grateful that the numbers are down.
The hospital reopened in 2021. Hodge had been a staff member before the hospital closed in 2019.
“We are doing well, and I hope we will be here for many, many years,” she said. “I’m very grateful to get it back up and running.”
She said the hospital management was very grateful to the staff.
“I think the hardest part of COVID and trying to open a new hospital was that there was no protocol set in stone. We kind of had to do our best every day with what we were given, but we had great staff. Every day we didn’t know what would happen to us, but the team really tried to pull it all together to do their best for the patients and the community, and I think they did a really good job,” says Hodge. “Everyone was really willing to step in and do things above what they were hired to do, just to take care of the patients, which makes the difference.”
Hodge said patients also expressed gratitude for the slow return to normal. She added that there were reasons to be hopeful for the future.
“COVID, I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon, but we’re learning how to deal with it better,” she said. “Patients are a little more aware of healthy living. … I think this hospital in general is heading in the right direction. …I tell patients every day, keep doing the little common sense things.
The office of Belmont County Deputy Health Commissioner Robert Sproul carried the brunt of tracking cases and possible infections and alerting people to the quarantine. He said there was plenty to be grateful for as COVID-19 waned, but he reminded the public to exercise caution as other, more mundane ailments could return with stronger symptoms.
“We’re glad to see the COVID numbers are down and less severe, but we’re still seeing COVID,” he said. “What is concerning is the number of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and influenza we are seeing in the valley and how this is affecting our local hospitals. Again, we are watching this, very concerned about this, and hope people will take precautions and protect themselves. We are coming to Thanksgiving. People will travel to meet other people.