CIRCLEVILLE — In an open letter to the community, nine leaders from southern and central Ohio community hospitals have asked for the community’s help.

“With the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, our hospitals, emergency departments and urgent cares are hitting record numbers,” the letter, which includes signatures from Jeff Graham, president and CEO of Adena Health System, and Tim Colburn, president of OhioHealth Berger Hospital, said.

“Many of the patients requiring hospitalization are experiencing a higher degree of illness than we have seen in the past, this is taking a toll on our associates. We are concerned with what the coming weeks will bring, we want to continue to provide the care our patients need, and when and where they need it.”

The health system leaders laid out what they’re seeing in their hospitals.

“What we are experiencing is very real. It isn’t a political issue; it’s a medical issue. When we look at our patient data, a vast majority of hospitalized COVID patients have not received the COVID vaccine.

COVID does not discriminate. It impacts all ages, races and sexes. The virus will spread — even to those who are healthy. We do have ways to reduce exposure to COVID and brace against a full-blown infection. You can use a mask and if you are 12 and older, get vaccinated.”

The leaders who signed the letter also included John Janoso Jr., president and CEO of Fairfield Medical Center; Stacey Gabriel, president and CEO of Hocking Valley Community Hospital; Michael Canaday, president and CEO Holzer Health System; Dana Engle, CEO of Madison Health; J. Scott Cantley, president and CEO of Memorial Health System; LeeAnn Helber, president of OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital; and Ben Gill, president and CEO of Southern Ohio Medical Center.

The letter urged people to get vaccinated and to take precautions.

“We need your help to protect yourself and your loved ones,” the letter states. “At times, we are all asked to put others before ourselves. During the pandemic, our call is no different. Using our knowledge of science and compassion to help others, we ask that you act soon. Help us change the trajectory of COVID-19 for our communities by protecting yourself and your loved ones.

By masking and becoming fully vaccinated, we will be able to drastically slow down the rate of spread and ultimately, COVID’s potential exposure to you.

Our communities have experienced so much loss due to COVID. As our teams console families who have lost loved ones, we have heard many say, “we never expected COVID to create such heartache and loss.” Sadly, this loss has moved some to become vaccinated themselves.”

The leaders called upon the public to band together as they have in the past.

“Historically our respective county residents have banded together during times of struggle. That’s what we love about the resiliency and grit. Whether it was a fire, tornado or flood, you have stepped up to support one another in times of crisis. We ask that you do that again. Our communities are in crisis. We ask that you rally together and extend grace instead of being divided.

The leaders of your community hospital are joining hands to fight for our community’s health. Please join us for the betterment of your loved ones and our communities.”

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