By Bob Weaver

It has been a trying time.

Health care providers and emergency responders have stepped up to the plate during the COVID-19 pandemic, often suffering through myriads of staffing and delivery challenges.

Hospitals are facing staff shortages, particularly among nurses and respiratory therapists, while volunteer fire departments continue to deliver service with a shortage of volunteers and EMS services continue to function with a shortage of medics and EMTs.

All have been affected during the crisis at all levels of care, taking a toll on the medical professionals and responders on the front lines.

Calhoun 911, OES and EMS coordinator Julie Sears said, "In the several months since the beginning of COVID-19, Calhoun first responders have had to adapt to responding in a bit different way to fit the pandemic environment."

Dispatchers have a list of questions asking callers to be able to make sure they have all the information. Most importantly, asking if anyone in the household is COVID positive or if anyone in the household has been exposed recently. This information is then passed onto EMS and fire departments so that they can safely respond to emergencies.

"As this pandemic continues, we have taken steps to keep our citizens And our first responders safe. We want everyone to be able to go home to their families at the end of the day. We appreciate the support that we have gotten and are proud to continue serving Calhoun County," Sears concluded.

Dr. Alison Wilson, the Executive Chair of the WVU Critical Care & Trauma Institute in Morgantown said, "Despite the shortages at West Virginia’s larger facilities, like Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, it’s the smaller community hospitals where the crunch is really felt."

"Providing exceptional healthcare during a pandemic is a challenge and our staff has met this challenge on every level" said Kimberly Houchin, CNO of Minnie Hamilton Health Systems.

"In addition to providing routine healthcare, our staff has collected approximately 21,000 swabs for COVID testing between all sites, administered over 4,000 vaccines, and administered 124 monoclonal antibody therapies."

"The willingness of the staff to go above and beyond on an ongoing basis speaks volumes of the dedication of Minnie Hamilton Health Systems associates, in return the community has supported staff by way of food, donating masks, cards of encouragement and thank you letters," Houchin said.

Additionally, MHHS CEO Steve Whited should be recognized for his up-front press releases, his family suffering through COVID-19 and the death of a family member.

Minnie Hamilton Health System was recently awarded Community Health Quality Recognition (CHQR) badges for having made notable quality improvement in the areas of access, quality, health equity, and health information technology.

MHHS has a specialized ultra-cold storage freezer able to reach temperatures of -86 degrees Celsius (-123 degrees Fahrenheit). Having this type of specialized freezer allows MHHS to receive COVID vaccine in thermal shipping containers directly from the manufacturer in large quantities, and store the vaccine for the entire shelf life.

MHHS continues to offer emergency/symptomatic and drive thru testing. To schedule a COVID vaccine call 304-354-9704 or 304-462-3407.