COVID-19 Update - A Message from Cottage Health to Our Community
Dear Community Member,
It has now been one year since the first patient with COVID was admitted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. For the past twelve months, physicians, nurses, and other clinical and support staff have worked tirelessly – with skill, compassion, and dedication – to care for hundreds of patients with COVID and many others in need of hospital care. We can never thank them enough for what they have done and continue to do 24/7 for our community.
With the challenging winter surge of COVID hospitalizations behind us, and now three highly effective vaccines authorized, there is certainly reason to be hopeful. More than 85 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, 46 million have been fully vaccinated, and now 2.6 million are being added to that number every day. At this rate, we can expect at least 70% of Americans to have received at least one vaccine dose by the end of June; perhaps even sooner if vaccine manufacturing, distribution, and administration ramps up more than expected.
Here in Santa Barbara County – through collaboration with Public Health, Sansum Clinic, the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, and our hospital colleagues at Lompoc Valley Medical Center and Marian Regional Medical Center, together with area pharmacies - we are on a similar pace with more than 142,000 doses administered and 50,000 fully vaccinated in our county. Cottage has administered nearly 40,000 vaccines – primarily at our drive-up community clinic in Goleta and select Cottage Urgent Care Centers – and we are working with community partners to provide access to at-risk populations. We are prepared to expand our efforts, but vaccine supply continues to be limited.
Our work is not finished, and this virus remains a serious threat. It is critical that we continue to follow safety precautions of masking, distancing, and handwashing while we vaccinate as quickly as supplies allow.
Our mass vaccination efforts would not be possible without the skill and dedication of an extraordinary group of trained clinical and community volunteers. This group of hundreds contributes their time to help fellow community members get the potentially life-saving shots that will help us emerge from this pandemic.
Here are additional updates:
The number of COVID hospitalizations peaked with a census of over 100 patients this winter, and now for most days of March has leveled at 15 to 20 patients. In the past week we saw a slight uptick in the number, reminding us that this is not over. Community precautions remain vital.
Following the initial emphasis to vaccinate individuals 65 years of age and older, we are now administering at least 30% of our vaccine allocation to essential workers, aligning with the state’s prioritization guidelines. Two weeks ago at the community vaccine clinic, more than 40 percent of doses were provided to individuals working in education and childcare. Eligibility continued to expand this past week, adding those under 65 with specific health conditions.
How do I schedule my first appointment for a vaccine?
If you have not already, please register online with the new state application, My Turn (myturn.ca.gov), to receive updates on your eligibility and information on how to schedule your first dose when eligible.
We understand it can be time-consuming to constantly search for vaccine availability, with the current high demand and limited supplies. To assist you in this effort, we plan on opening appointments each week as follows:
Because we receive notification of the next week’s vaccine allocation to Cottage Health by Friday, we will release most appointments for the upcoming week in My Turn between 3-5 p.m. on Fridays. If a small number of additional appointments become available throughout the week, those will also be released each afternoon. If information changes, we’ll share updates at cottagehealth.org/covid19.
Second doses - We consistently have received sufficient vaccine allocation to provide second doses on schedule for those who receive a first dose at our clinic. Individuals with a second dose due from Cottage will receive an email notification at least five days before their second dose is needed.
The phone lines at Cottage Health are extremely busy. Please help us by sharing the word that vaccine appointments may be accessed online through My Turn, and Cottage’s call center will not offer a route to bypass the online process. Cottage Health is no longer offering appointment scheduling by phone except as part of our direct outreach to vulnerable populations.
Cottage Health and UCSB are collaborating to identify, track and research variants of the virus in our local community. Preliminary findings show the B.1.427/B.1.429 variants (discovered in California) circulating in our community earlier this year, and the more recent emergence here of the B.1.1.7 variant (first detected in UK). It is reassuring to know that our currently available vaccines are a good match to offer protection against these variants. Clearly, our best tool is the vaccine. Please follow the medical advice, continuing to follow all safety precautions and obtaining a vaccine as soon as available, regardless of the manufacturer. The best way forward is to work quickly in efforts to vaccinate and build our collective immunity, while keeping each other safe. Visit sbcdashboard.org for ongoing updates on variant research in our community.
With Santa Barbara now in the Red Tier, families and loved ones can again visit patients, with certain restrictions for safety. For most inpatient acute care patients, one visitor at a time will be permitted to visit. Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Labor and Delivery patients will be allowed two visitors. For the safety of our staff and patients, and in compliance with the health order, visitors are required to wear a mask at all times and remain in the patient room.
We recently received news that Cottage Health has once again been recognized by Fortune as one of the Best Workplaces in Healthcare. I have never been more grateful to be a part of this community and the team of professionals at Cottage Health, working around the clock to provide care.
To our community: We deeply appreciate your ongoing efforts, your kind words for Cottage staff, and your contributions to the health of our community. Please continue precautions as we work together to ensure everyone stays safe and soon has access to vaccine.
President & CEO