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 nurses are being celebrated for going above and beyond for their patients and care team colleagues. Every year, the Northern Nevada Nurses of Achievement Committee recognizes registered nurses (RNs) from across the community to celebrate their accomplishments and further the nursing profession. The committee just announced the 2020 award winners, including seven high-performing nurses from Renown Health. Nurses are at the forefront of the care teams working through the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 has been fittingly declared the “International Year of the Nurse and Midwife” by the World Health Organization. Celebrating our nurses is more important this year than ever, and Renown is proud to be home to seven of the 2020 Northern Nevada Nurses of Achievement winners in the following categories: Clinical Leadership: Jenny Garcia, RN, BSN, supervisor of nursing in the orthopedics unit at Renown Regional Medical Center; Critical Care: Olivia Cartwright, RN, BSN, bedside nurse in the intensive care unit at Renown Regional Medical Center; Lifetime Achievement: Cheryl Jameson, RN, bedside nurse in the general surgical unit at Renown South Meadows Medical Center; Office & Outpatient: Kathleen Neilan, RN, BCN, OCN, cancer nurse navigator at Renown Institute for Cancer; Oncology and Infusion Services: Paola Espinoza, RN, BSN, supervisor of nursing in the cancer nursing unit at Renown Regional Medical Center; Rookie of the Year: Tamara Slater, RN, BSN, bedside nurse in the general surgical unit at Renown Regional Medical Center;Renown Facility Winner: Chelsea Zielinski, RN, MSN, clinical nurse educator in the neonatal intensive care unit at Renown Regional Medical Center. From a pool of over 400 publicly-nominated nurses who provide care across northern Nevada’s care facilities and hospitals, the Committee announced a total of 14 award winners during a virtual awards celebration on Friday, Aug. 28. Anthony D. Slonim, RN, MD, DrPH, FACHE; President and CEO of Renown, who worked as a registered nurse in an Emergency Department earlier in his career says, “We appreciate the work that every nurse does every day, not only for the patient in the hospital, but in all of the other settings where people come to learn how to live healthier lives. Nurses have direct influence on the outcomes of every patient, and I congratulate all 14 nurses for their exceptional achievements.” He adds, “The real winners are those patients, families, colleagues and community members who are cared for by these exceptional nursing professionals.” “We’re proud to celebrate our community’s nurses and all they do to care for patients and their loved ones,” said Jana Elliott, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Acute Care Services. “Nursing is a true calling to serve others and there are so many incredible ways nurses go beyond their duty to provide the best care despite the intense nature of the pandemic.” “Nurses are at the core of our care teams; they provide compassionate care and advocate for patients and their loved ones in a time of need,” said Melodie Osborn, Chief Nursing Officer, Health Services. “The Northern Nevada Nurses of Achievement awards are a longstanding way of honoring our community’s most compassionate nurses.” Interview Opportunities A 2020 Nurses of Achievement winner and a representative from Renown’s nursing leadership are happy to speak on this prestigious honor, as well as what it means to be a nurse during these unprecedented times. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 775-691-7308 to schedule an interview. 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 Northern Nevada Nurses of Achievement Shining a spotlight on the nursing profession since 1999, the Northern Nevada Nurses of Achievement Committee works to honor their colleagues and to increase awareness of nursing as a profession. The committee also supports the growth of the profession in awarding scholarships for nursing students.