This week, many of the nation’s health care systems in communities across the U.S. began vaccinating physicians and health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19. Many of these health care heroes have been on the front-line of this pandemic and working around-the clock over the last ten months. Vaccinations signal hope for the future Here in Washoe County, today is the highly anticipated start date of what public health and medical experts hope is a nationwide wave of vaccinations that signal the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s good news from Renown coincided with a dark new milestone for Washoe County—384 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and over 13,579 active cases in our population of nearly 500,000. COVID-19 positivity test results and hospitalizations continue to be high across the country, our state and here in northern Nevada; straining hospital capacity, physicians and healthcare workers. Today we saw a bright light at the end of this dark tunnel. Renown began vaccinating health care workers caring for patients with COVID-19, and invited media to view the first vaccinations of those on the front-line of COVID-19. One vaccine, a Herculean effort of thousands “Although the vaccination process as you see it here looks relatively simple, it took a herculean logistical effort to implement the COVID-19 vaccination process that has begun today,” said Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, President & CEO of Renown Health. “Today, thanks to the synchronized efforts of thousands of people and organizations across the country, we give thanks for this vaccination provided to Luis Martinez, an excellent ambassador for the thousands of healthcare heroes caring for patients with COVID-19. The health and safety of our staff is our top priority, and we remain steadfast in our determination to fight the good fight for our community.” Luis, on the front-line of the COVID-19 pandemic, receives 1st vaccine from Renown Luis Martinez received the 1st of his Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration last week. He will receive the second and final vaccination in the series in 21 days. The first dose of vaccine was given to Luis outside of his vehicle so cameras could capture the experience. Renown’s COVID-19 Vaccination process includes pre-scheduling physicians and employees through the EPIC MyChart electronic medical record used by Renown. Employees are masked, and in their personal vehicles, as they drive through the vaccination site. Each physician and healthcare worker provides their verification, identification, documentation and consent. They then extend their upper arm to receive the Pfizer vaccination. Following the receipt of the vaccination they have a 15-minute observation period to assure they do not experience any immediate side effects. These Tier 1A healthcare employees were encouraged to schedule their vaccination after their completed work schedule to have time to rest. As with all vaccinations, there is a potential for injection site reactions (redness, swelling and pain) as well as fever, fatigue, headache, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and/or joint pain. Fever is not an infrequent side effect, especially on the 2nd dose, so these vaccinated employees will self-monitor their temperatures, as they cannot work at Renown with a fever. In addition to Luis, you’ll see, first in his truck- Dr. Bret Frey, representing the Medical Staff and Emergency Medicine physicians at Renown; Nurse Matt Polak, Supervisor of Clinical Nursing of Renown’s Respiratory Intensive Care Unit representing Renown nurses; Holly Irwin, a Clinical Respiratory Therapist in her vehicle; Alexis Bertauche, Respiratory Specialist in his vehicle; Eric Whitney, the supervisor representing the 168 members of Renown’s Environmental Services team who have performed extensive disinfecting measures throughout the pandemic, physician representatives from partners at UNR School of Medicine, Reno Orthopedic Clinic, the Surgery Center of Reno and across the community. Brighter days ahead for Luis Luis has been working in Renown’s Alternate Care Site in the Mill Street parking structure since it opened to patients in mid-November. He’s been at Renown since 2016, where he started as a phlebotomist and was encouraged to explore career advancement in the medical field. He applied to work as a technician on Renown’s Clinical Decision Unit- a short stay unit within the hospital for people who need clinical care, but do not need to be admitted to the hospital. Luis worked with patients and clinicians in the Clinical Decision Unit for a year before requesting to work in Renown’s innovative Alternate Care Site, built for patients recovering from COVID-19, for additional care before they returned home. Luis was scheduled to take the Medical College Admission Test® in April of this year to fulfill his dreams of becoming a doctor, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to change his plans. He plans to reschedule his medical school admission exam in February. He is excited to begin his training, possibly at UNR School of Medicine, and hopes one day to be a physician caring competently and compassionately for those in need. Luis has so much to look forward to, after such a difficult year. Luis turned 33 in October, and on his birthday, contracted COVID-19 after attending a family party. He experienced fever and noticed how dramatically the COVID-19 virus affected his breathing, his lungs, and his energy level. After spending time at home recovering, Luis recovered, tested negative, and returned to work. As a result of his experience and his interest in medicine, Luis has done a lot of research on the vaccine. Luis is bilingual and volunteers with CARE Chest of Sierra Nevada, a non-profit organization that provides free medical equipment, supplies, and prescription assistance to underserved populations when he is not working at Renown. Vaccine one more tool to help fight pandemic “The best protection from COVID-19 will be a combination of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, and washing your hands often,” says Amy McCombs, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNML, vice president of Quality for Acute Services for Renown, and the champion of the vaccination effort for Renown. “No one tool alone will stop this pandemic, it will take a combination of all of us using all of these efforts to fight the spread of this virus. Though there has been positive news about vaccine development, no one knows when those vaccines will be ready for widespread use. In the meantime, everyone must remain vigilant, take precautions and follow public health orders.” “This vaccination is a game-changer in terms of improving the health of our community,” said Paul Sierzenski, MD, MSHQS, Chief Medical Officer, Acute Services, Renown Health. "Given the demands of this COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to be able to provide this vaccination to help in the fight. We will follow CDC recommendations for a tiered approach to vaccine distribution. Our goal is that by spring, all Renown physicians; employees and their family members; and all Hometown Health members and Renown patients interested in receiving the vaccine will have an opportunity to be vaccinated.” The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory for all Renown employees, but is strongly advised. Renown is covering all costs of the vaccine, and it is being offered free of charge to employees. Register for Renown EPIC MyChart now. To streamline the notification, consent, scheduling and reminder process for vaccine distribution, as well as to post to Web IZ Nevada’s Statewide Immunization Information System, all who are interested in receiving the vaccine through Renown will need to enroll and obtain an EPIC MyChart account. Stay Up-to-date on COVID-19 Renown Health is prepared to safely screen, diagnose and care for patients with respiratory illness, including COVID-19. To stay up-to-date on communications regarding Renown’s distribution of the COVID19 vaccine, FAQs and the scientific evidence behind the vaccine, visit https://covid.renown.org/ Join the Renown team Renown Health remains committed to hiring key roles in our organization to support the health and well-being of our community. To join the Renown family to Fight the Good Fight, apply on line at https://careers.renown.org/ Support the Renown team Renown Health, a charitable, not-for-profit organization, is so grateful for our community’s support during these unprecedented times. To donate to Renown patients or providers, visit https://www.renown.org/donations-covid-19/. About Renown Health Renown Health is a locally governed and locally owned, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving northern Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. Renown is one of the region’s largest private employers with a workforce of more than 7,000. It comprises three acute care hospitals, a rehabilitation hospital, the area’s most comprehensive medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest and only locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown has a long tradition and commitment to continually improve the care and the health of our community. For more information, visit renown.org. About the Washoe County Health District The Washoe County Health District has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.
Renown Health and the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) announced today their intent to develop plans for a proposed long-term partnership designed to enhance Nevada’s medical education system, expand clinical research capacity in northern Nevada and create a world-class healthcare network. The collaboration between Nevada’s oldest medical school and one of its largest non-profit healthcare organizations is well underway, with the organizations executing a Letter of Intent. The final agreement with details of the arrangement is slated to be signed by the end of the year. “Over the last 50 years, Renown Health has been an important UNR Med partner. We share a common vision, and recognize how expanding our collaboration will benefit the community through increased access to care and expanded clinical training and research programs. We know we can do more together than we would be able to do separately," said UNR Med Dean and Vice President, Health Sciences, Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., professor, family and community medicine. "As healthcare professionals, we are forever changed by the events of the last six months. This new affiliation acknowledges our changing educational and healthcare environment, and advances our state-wide vision of A Healthy Nevada." Like many healthcare systems and medical schools across the nation, Renown Health and the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine have worked together for decades to advance a mutual commitment to improving the health of the community. Over the last five decades, UNR Med has educated more than 3,900 physicians with over 30 percent practicing in Nevada, increasing access to care for residents across the state. Equally rooted in the community, Renown’s long legacy of service started in 1862 as a county hospital, Washoe Medical Center. Now, Renown Health serves the community by providing care through hospitals, outpatient medical offices, institutes and an insurance plan, Hometown Health. Expanding on their long history of collaboration, both Renown Health and UNR Med have new strategic plans based on recruiting top-tier physicians and healthcare professionals, improving access to and developing new models of innovative care, and investing in clinical research. As pillars of healthcare in northern Nevada, both provide key services for underserved populations, and collaborate to educate, train and employ the next generation of doctors and healthcare professionals to support the health of local and rural communities, the state and the nation. “This new agreement builds on the close collaboration we have had for many years with UNR Med leadership,” says Anthony D. Slonim, MD, DrPH, FACHE, President and CEO, Renown Health; who also serves as professor of clinical medicine and pediatrics at University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine. “We have collaborated in research, medical education, grant funding for public health, clinical trials and integrated clinical practices to improve access and affordability of care. We both serve communities with significant health needs and socioeconomic challenges that have worsened through this pandemic. We recognize that this new level of affiliation will drive innovation and research that improves the health of our community, and together, we can be more effective in creating a healthier Nevada.” University of Nevada, Reno President Marc A. Johnson, PhD, said, “Physicians, clinicians and clinical researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine and Renown have worked together to care for patients during the COVID-19 crisis, from the bedside, to the research labs, and to the medical offices. That is a powerful example of the partnership between the two organizations as we have faced a historic pandemic. This new agreement reinforces what has already been a strong and impactful partnership. It promises to extend the healthcare mission of our School of Medicine and Renown for a community benefit that will be felt far beyond the next generation.” James DeVolld, board chair of Renown said, “During such a difficult time for our community, we are thrilled to bring two great organizations together, and present the community with such a precious gift. We have an urgent imperative to transform the delivery and financing of healthcare. Health systems and medical schools across the country are collaborating in innovative new ways, finding new efficiencies and better solutions by sharing clinical experience, intellectual resources, grants and community support.” Max J. Coppes, MD, PhD, Professor and Nell J. Redfield Chair of Pediatrics at UNR Med and Physician-in-Chief at Renown Children’s Hospital, added, “We are thrilled to have the support of so many elected officials, UNR Med students, alumni, donors, and community members to advance a mutual commitment to ensuring that people in northern Nevada can get top medical care right here at home. The envisioned integration will result in better access to state-of-the-art patient care, enhance and expand our ability to teach the next generation of healthcare providers, and actively engage in medical research, bringing new clinical research trials to our area.” Dr. Coppes noted the partnership’s previous success in 2014 when Renown Health and UNR Med collaborated in launching a transformation of Renown Children’s Hospital, the region’s only children’s hospital dedicated to full pediatric services. Dean Schwenk will present the Letter of Intent to the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents on Friday, September 11. With NSHE regent approval, the affiliation will enter a period of review and due diligence within the organizations and with the relevant regulatory and oversight bodies. Until then, it will be business as usual within the two organizations. The process is estimated to continue through the end of the year. “Together, we can bring a higher level of world-class care providers, leading-edge care and new delivery approaches to meet the needs of people in our community,” said Sy Johnson, MBA, and Chief of Staff for Renown Health. “This is what we call Destination Health, enabling patients and families, including both local patients and those traveling long distances, to receive the most comprehensive medical care, right here at home.” The planned integration resembles other partnerships such as Washington University—Barnes Jewish Health System, Yale New Haven Health System, Penn Medicine, and RWJ-Barnabas-Rutgers. These partnerships expand medical education training opportunities for students and residents, retain more physician graduates in the community, recruit prominent physicians and researchers and build a more robust healthcare workforce. About Renown Health Renown Health is the region’s largest, locally owned and governed, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. With a diverse workforce of more than 7,000 employees, Renown has fostered a longstanding culture of excellence, determination and innovation. The organization comprises a trauma center, two acute care hospitals, a children’s hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, a medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest, locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown’s institute model addresses social determinants of health and includes: Child Health, Behavioral Health & Addiction, Healthy Aging and Health Innovation. Clinical institutes include: Cancer, Heart and Vascular Heath, Neurosciences and Robotic Surgery. Renown is currently enrolling participants in the world’s largest community-based genetic population health study, the Healthy Nevada Project®. For more information, visit renown.org. About University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada’s first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Since 1969, UNR Med has trained more than 3,900 students, residents and fellows. UNR Med continues to improve the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion. For more information, visit med.unr.edu.UNR Med Public Relations Media ContactM: 775-846-8445E: firstname.lastname@example.org