Mission Hospital Facing Body Bag Shortages - TribPapers

Mission Hospital Facing Body Bag Shortages

Photo by Mufid Majnun.

Asheville – On Monday, September 13, a harried emergency department nurse at Mission Hospital sent out an urgent, grim appeal: “We need more body bags.”

“Borrow some from ICU [intensive care unit] if you have to,” she added.

Sources close to Mission operations relayed an alarming new situation: Western North Carolina’s largest health care facility is caught flat-footed by the latest COVID-19 surge.

On September 9, Mission’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. William Hathaway, released a statement saying that the patients who succumbed to Covid since the resurge triggered by the appearance of the virus’ “delta variant” were all unvaccinated. Hathaway’s comments were greeted by volleys of protestations and corrections, many from family members of the deceased patients. Next day Hathaway retracted his previous remarks and issued another statement which read:

“During a regular COVID update to the Buncombe County Commission, I made a statement based on the knowledge I had at the time that no vaccinated people had died at Mission Hospital from COVID-19.

“I have since learned there were 2 deaths and apologize for that error. My intention was to reinforce that the vaccine is both safe and effective in protecting individuals from serious illness or hospitalization from COVID-19. 

“While the number may not be zero, it is emphatically true that the large majority of hospitalizations and the vast majority of deaths are occurring in unvaccinated people, and I strongly encourage anyone who was not been vaccinated to do so.”

Observers say that evidence suggests that Hathaway made his comments knowing that more than half of his own staff was not immunized. Reports at that time put the actual unvaccinated percentage of hospital staff at 56 percent. As reported by the Tribune last week, Hathaway insisted that the already exsiting safety protocols in place for hospital staff sufficed to avert an internal Covid spread.

Dissident Dissodents

Many detractors, most not up to speed with the specific recent advances in genetic sciences, remain convinced the vaccines were developed in great haste. Nonetheless reputable sources like the Science News this last June elucidated on the leaps made in computer processing for genetically mapping out these viruses and its positive results for developing the vaccine:

”For some perspective, researchers first deciphered, or sequenced, the entire human genome over a span of almost 13 years, starting in 1990 and wrapping up in 2003 (Science News: 1/17/03). Because of advances in computers, the same task now can take only hours.”

Understandably many do not realize that as early as December of 2020 scientists had already successfully mapped the entire genomoe of Sars-Cov-2 (Covid19). That means scientists were quickly equipped:

“Most crucially, researchers now had the genetic instructions for making the spike proteins that the virus uses to break into cells…”

Nonetheless vaccine proponents add that though they were developed hurriedly, it was in a reasonable effort to contain a public health emergency. 

The HCA Factor

In 2019 the Mission operation was purchased by Health Care of America (HCA), a conglomerate headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. The move was greeted by widespread skepticism both among local citizens and in the Mission medical community at large. Dozens of doctors, nurses and other health care workers jumped the HCA ship before it even docked, and a steady stream of resignations have persisted ever since. HCA was perceived to be more interested in increasing its bottom line than in providing increased health care quality.

More to the point, as it developed, HCA has no requirement that its employees should observe any special protocols for protection against any airborne infection, including Covid.

At a public input meeting held in February of 2020, a full year after the HCA takeover,  North Carolina State Sen. Terry Van Duyn expressed concerns about the absence of health safety regulations at Mission.  

“The time for patience in the transition has passed and the time for real conversation with HCA leadership about these problems has come…” Ms. Van Duyn said, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

But HCA appears to remain tone-deaf to public outcry and legislators’ rebukes.  

An Atlanta health care attorney, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Tribune, “This is the old case of might-makes-right. They are bigger than you and richer than you and they will do what they want to do.”

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