A Tale of Two Periods

By Patti Parish-Kaminski, Publisher

Patti Parish-Kaminski, Publisher

A friend recently coined this phrase in regards to the COVID-19 crisis, and I think it is spot on to define what we as a community are experiencing in regards to this healthcare crisis. You see, there truly is a marked difference from what we as a community experienced in March and April in comparison to what we are now experiencing post Memorial Day with the Corona virus, and perhaps the biggest difference is that we are all exhausted.

Personally, I’m worn out. I’m tired of it taking so much longer to accomplish a routine task. I’m tired of hearing about my friends becoming ill. I’m tired of hearing heart-breaking stories about local businesses and our economy. I’m tired of not being able to hug my friends to show them how much I miss them and care for them. I’m just tired, and it appears that we are in the middle of a new Corona tale, one that is markedly different, and it’s making me – and I suspect so many of us – beyond weary.

“There’s still much to be learned about this virus,” shared the friend who defines the pandemic as “A Tale of Two Periods,” and this community leader knows what he’s talking about as he is on the front lines of this crisis every day. Chris Siebenaler, Regional Senior Vice President & CEO of Houston Methodist Sugar Land, shared that this virus looks very different in the last 30 days than it did at the onset.

So, what are the differences between the two tales of COVID? Siebenaler shared that before Memorial Day, COVID-19 patients at Houston Methodist Sugar Land were four percent of the hospital population. As of July 8th, that number is now 30 percent. And, the demographics of the patient population differs as well. Patients who tested positive for the virus in March and April were typically older – 60 percent were over 60 years-old. Within the last two months, 60 percent of patients are under 60 years-old.

Patients during the first spike of the virus had increased health issues and stayed in the hospital longer; patients during the resurgence tend to have fewer health issues and have shorter stays in the hospital, on average 3.5 days. But, obviously, there are significantly more of them.

Yet another difference in the tales is the origin of the virus. The initial appearance of the virus in Fort Bend was attributed largely to a diverse population who travel overseas. With the resurgence, it’s evident the virus is community spread, which is why wearing a mask and social distancing has become more important than ever. It’s our reality for now, and we are likely in it for the long haul.

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital healthcare heroes in one of their three COVID units receiving a sweet “thank you:” Girl Scout cookies.

So, what do we do as an exhausted community? We will wear masks and have a good attitude about it. We will continue washing our hands – a lot. And yes, we will practice social distancing to care for ourselves, our loved ones and our community. But more importantly, we can recognize another significant difference between these two periods of the pandemic: the increased workload for our exhausted healthcare professionals.

This tale is taking a toll on our healthcare heroes, and just as we need them to thrive during this crisis, they need us right now more than ever. Longer shifts, more patients, increased workload,– this is a uniquely stressful time for our healthcare professionals. Yes, we are all under stress with this crisis, and we are all exhausted from it, but our healthcare systems would collapse without the dedicated physicians, nurses, technicians, therapists, housekeeping staff, technical support staff and so on. The pastoral team at Houston Methodist Sugar Land recognizes this. Reverend Bob Kidd shared that Methodist’s core value of spiritual care is not solely for the patients; they are dedicated to the care of their valued employees who need the pastoral team, or the Bow Tie Brigade, more than ever right now.

“We are all looking for strength, energy and the confidence to move ahead,” shared Reverend Kidd, who said the role of the chaplains at Houston Methodist is dedicated to supporting both patients and staff.

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Chaplain Residents Cornelius Anthony and Jim George – members of the “Bow Tie Brigade.”

At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, we all rallied around our physicians, nurses and hospitals much like Reverend Kidd and the Methodist spiritual care team. As the crisis has lingered, and in fact grown more intense, we are all weary. But now is the time more than ever to step up as a community and support one another. A note, a meal, a snack or a rally to cheer on our healthcare heroes as they change shifts – as they end or enter into another marathon – means so much.

Yes, I’m tired, but my row to hoe isn’t nearly as tough as the rows of our healthcare heroes. We have four major hospitals in Fort Bend filled to the brim with the most amazing professionals. Let’s rally as Fort Bend does to show some love.

A Message from Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital:

Please help slow the spread of COVID-19 by washing your hands, wearing a mask and staying socially distant. We are also continuing to accept in-kind donations such as meals, snacks and uplifting words of encouragement, as this has always put a smile on our healthcare heroes’ faces and truly left a positive impact on them. Your support and donations proved invaluable during the first wave, and we are reaching out for continued support now as our staff is even more challenged during these times.

To support healthcare heroes at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, contact Alicen Swift at alswift@houstonmethodist.org, 281.276.0627 or cell 281.714.6019.