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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I talk to at least one of my siblings once per week. Every time I talk to one of them, they ask me, “When do you think we can see each other again?” “Do you plan to come up to the cabin this year?” Back in October 2020, I was afraid I was not going to see my family for a very long time.

In west central Missouri, we were starting on a COVID-19 outbreak that would test our hospitals, our clinic staff, our schools, and our communities. It seemed like there was no good news. And the same for November 2020 December 2020 and January 2021. That winter we had several employees contract the virus and a couple of them got very, very sick. We experienced dark days and struggled to staff our clinics and ensure our patients had the care they needed.

December brought hope, with approval of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Bothwell Regional Health Center was the first to receive vaccine in our region and they graciously allowed our staff to get vaccinated. Initially we had less than 20 staff members sign up but over time we have almost 50% of our staff having received the vaccine. The pinprick of light was starting to show itself.

On January 19, 2021, Katy Trail Community Health received our first order of vaccine and we set up vaccine events at all four of our locations. We had a waiting list of people wanting the vaccine and we sought out our patients who were most vulnerable to make sure they had access to the vaccine if they wanted it.

Then we heard about the new variants of COVID-19 and the light began to dim again. We learned that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine would immunize against the new variants, but we were in a race to vaccinate as many people as we could. You see, now our worry is that the variants will mutate again, and our existing vaccines will not provide protection.

Today, cases are decreasing rapidly, both in my community and in the nation. The number of people dying daily is decreasing as well, although we will likely see over 500,000 people tragically lose their lives to COVID. The supply of vaccine is increasing and soon we may have a one-shot vaccine available (Johnson and Johnson), making it easier to vaccinate large groups of people.

Yesterday, three of my sisters called me and they asked the question they ask me every time we talk. This time I said, “I am coming to the cabin in August, and I think we will be able to celebrate the holidays together this year!” The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. I hope it is not a train, I hope it is the light of family, community gatherings and celebration.

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