Chelsea Community Forum notes from Dec. 11, 2021

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From Chelsea Community Forum moderator Vincent Elie:

Approximately 6 people participated in the Chelsea Community Forum (CCF) via Zoom on December 11th. Our discussion was recorded and can be found at the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/3kxv8abhOm5zPivEZXGq9CzxJcnaGk1R5LXe6…

Passcode: @css0bw4

The topics we chose and discussed for the morning included A) Supporting our exhausted hospital staff as the Omicron variant initiates the 4th wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths and B) How to approach our lives during this 4th COVID wave. Is this the new normal?

An audience member noted the Patient Experience Advisory Council at St. Joseph-Chelsea has had COVID – 19 as a longstanding agenda item. The council has noted that the staff has become increasingly discouraged with the COVID – 19 Pandemic. The hospital staff believed that the tide was being turned earlier in 2021 with the reduction in COVID – 19 cases and the increase in fully vaccinated individuals. However, cases have, again, increased and the vaccination rate has plateaued. The staff is running on empty, with increasing staff shortages and a persistent need to work beyond their scheduled shifts. The staff shortages, the mandatory overtime, the number of COVID-19 cases, its severity and the number of resulting deaths (in addition to “routine” admissions and the ER’s triage and treatment of medical cases), and the increased rancor in society surrounding vaccine administration/mandates and mask recommendations/mandates have led to an increasingly demoralized staff. In an effort to support the Front-line Staff, the hospital has identified a limited amount of Restricted Funds that they will use to provide food for staff members working the ER, ICU and COVID Units thru January 2022. Several ideas are being floated about how to let our Hospital staff know the Community has not forgotten them or their efforts during this crisis including: the removal of snow from hospital staff vehicles, food pick up/delivery when needed, running errands, sending cards/letters of support and public displays of appreciation including monetary donations for the St. Joe's Chelsea COVID-19 Response Fund (https://www.stjoeshealth.org/about-us/ways-to-give/).

When asked what the staff needs and wants, the reply was “full vaccination status” for community members. Any other ideas for supporting the Hospital staff can be sent to Jaclyn Klein (Jaclyn.Klein@stjoeshealth.org)

We then pivoted to a discussion on how to approach life in the 4th wave of COVID-19. Many folks shared the concept of balancing the risks associated with public participation in activities and becoming risk averse to all public activities. Some reported giving up partaking in theater events, altering the times they entered restaurants, taking any trips, airplane travel, meetings with friends and acquaintances in enclosed facilities. Others mentioned that the worry, following public events, led them to not participate in future events, as they were not sure what they would “bring home” to their families. Many expressed frustrations with not being able to know or estimate the true risk as some folks do not consistently wear masks and/or have chosen not to be vaccinated. Some expressed the idea that COVID-19 vaccine mandates are not significantly different than those that are mandated for other childhood vaccinations.

We ended with a discussion regarding ways to garner greater participation from the local public and local Chelsea officials. Future topics look to address homelessness in the area and mental health.

The next Chelsea Community Forum is scheduled for January 8th at 9 AM. Topics to be determined as well as those that have caught our attention over the last month. A peaceful joyous Christmas and happy New Year to everybody.

The CCF is open to all with an interest in the affairs of the Chelsea School District area and meets the 2nd Saturday of every month at 9:00 AM, currently on Zoom. The meeting link can be found on the Forum’s website: https://sites.google.com/site/chelseamiforum/home and is advertised through the Chelsea Update newsletter.

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