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Letters to the Editor, April 30, 2020

Farmington Daily Times

Local doctor discusses business reopenings

I wished to respond to Mayor Nate Duckett's declaration of an economic disaster with a word of caution.  In his declaration, he thanked the Governor for her excellent efforts in ordering the shut down, and he proposed an immediate 20%  opening up of businesses.

We all share the Mayor's concern and anxiety about the economic shutdown. I and my partners are also business owners, worried about so much lost business, and grave concerns for the near future. We inevitably will have to open up our economy very carefully. We will not be able to abandon many habits that we have learned lately, like social distancing.  

Any opening of the economy, and the attendant increase in close human interactions will result in some increase in COVID-19 infections. It is inevitable and must be accepted on some level.  And this virus will be with us for quite some time. The second wave will likely occur in the fall, and potentially could be much worse than what we have already experienced. Many more people will inevitably get sick before we can establish "herd immunity" that will ultimately slow the pandemic. 

A vaccine, if developed within one or two years, could help greatly. New treatments, most likely with antivirals, will be developed. But for now, our only real weapon is social distancing. The virus knows no political party, nor geographic boundary, and if we fail to respect the virus, it will continue to harm us.

All of this is to say, we have already sacrificed so much to see a flattening of the curve, but in the Four Corners, it is not clearly flattened yet. Let us work together to chose a reasonable path forward that does not put us back to square one, forcing another shutdown. I am not sure we could recover from an economic loss of that magnitude. 

The only path forward is to use caution, to not blow up our gains on the disease so far, and to use evidence based methods to move forward.  We have said during this crisis that "we are all in this together".  We must continue to be together moving forward.  

Joseph Pope MD


COVID-19 prevention methods vitally important

I am writing in response to recent calls for easing social distancing protocols that have been implemented to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

As someone concerned about people’s livelihoods and education I would hope this happens soon, but as a physician with training in public health, I am strongly opposed to this and hope that every American supports continuing these measures as long as is necessary to control the virus. 

Social/physical distancing is presently the most effective means of reducing illness and deaths from coronavirus. Letting up on such practices too early could be catastrophic for the health and well-being of millions of Americans. If we lift social distancing protocols too early it can lead to a dramatic increase in virus cases and overwhelm clinics, ambulances, hospitals, and mortuaries. 

More specifically, I implore New Mexicans to continue social/physical distancing until there is: widespread testing for Coronavirus that shows a continued reduction in new cases; contact tracing to determine potential new cases who have not yet demonstrated symptoms but may transmit infection to others; sufficient healthcare workforce to do testing and follow-up; adequate personal protective equipment for every frontline healthcare worker; and adequate healthcare system capacity to safely treat patients with the virus. 

As a physician who has taken care of catastrophically ill people with Coronavirus from the Four Corners area and knows personally people who have died from it – and hopes never to see either again- I hope we can all support these laws that are based on science and compassion. 

Eileen Barrett, MD, MPH, FACP, SFHM

Regent, American College of Physicians


Please help a pet, and its owner

During this COVID19 crisis many families adopted pets from local shelters. This was great for those animals who will now hopefully have love and care. However, many animals were lost during this period and few have found their way back to their owners. A look at Facebook indicates how many grieving pet owners are trying to locate a missing pet. 

With the "stay at home" rule, fewer people are driving about to see or notice a lost animal. The shelters are closed to the public, open only by appointment. So even if an animal is rescued by someone there's a question for many how to surrender or if that's the best way to find its owner. Local papers have had nearly no classified ads where Lost and Found Pets are usually advertised. Four Corners/Thrifty Nickel has not printed for several weeks.

My Australian Shepherd "Badger" went missing eight weeks ago, only days before the COVID19 shutdown. He managed to escape the house and ran down our drive looking for our truck when we drove into Ignacio. We were gone less than an hour and as soon as we realized he was gone began searching, phoning neighbors, driving up and down nearby roads calling, looking. We notified shelters immediately, put ads in the papers, made flyers that we posted at local businesses and put in mailboxes, put signs at intersections, posted on Facebook.

There has been no sign of our dog and no "found" report. I check every day and read sadly of many other lost dogs. I suspect they were picked up by someone well-meaning, but perhaps unsure how to locate an owner. So I am reaching out to these individuals: If you have found a pet you believe is lost it probably belongs to someone who loves it and is grieving for it... please try to find the owner:

1. Notify the local shelters.

2. Advertise in "Lost and Found" of local paper.

3. Post on social media, including a photo.

4. Return to the location you found it, look for signs, posters, check local businesses for bulletins or flyers. Many owners gratefully offer a reward.

It may seem a trivial loss at present, but no one needs additional grief. Please help.

Caryl Helmin

Ignacio, Colorado

Send pet food

Those of us who are doing well during this trying time might consider donating brand name dog and cat food and/or cat litter to the Aztec Animal Shelter. I'm sure they would appreciate some help from us animal lovers.

You might want to check out their sweet animals while you are at it. A loving pet may be just what you need to perk up your household.

Paula Bain (who adopted my beautiful tuxedo cat, Mitzi from there.) 

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

A word from a hospital administrator

We are living in a new era. Staying home is the safest thing we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19. Of course, not everyone can stay at home. The caregivers at your community owned and operated hospital are on the front lines of this fight. We are here for you –working around the clock to care for everyone who needs us. It’s a responsibility we take seriously.

With every new challenge, we have responded with the best interests of our community in mind. San Juan Regional Medical Center is not part of a larger health system. We are an independent, community owned non-profit hospital. We have the advantage of making decisions right here at the local level. For example, when challenged with how to keep potentially ill patients out of the Emergency Department to stop the spread of illness, we immediately set up a drive through screening area. We produced a hotline with the latest information. We brought you videos from our providers and answered your questions live on Facebook.

As a community owned facility, we are fortunate to have support from our community. Our call for help obtaining personal protective equipment is one example of the overwhelming support we’ve felt. Thank you to everyone who has given us extra supplies, sewn masks, brought food, and much more. We appreciate your generosity and are grateful for any supplies we receive to help keep our caregivers safe. We are also grateful for the support of our community partners across San Juan County. You won’t find a better group when it comes to emergency preparedness and response. 

San Juan Regional Medical Center is blessed to have an incredible team with extensive training, experience and expertise. I am proud of the hard work that continues on a daily basis to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect our patients and our community during this unprecedented time. It’s a demonstration of our Core Values. While we take on this new challenge, we are still here to meet the needs of our community. Accidents and injuries will happen. Babies will still be born. We will be here to provide quality care through it all.

Jeff Bourgeois

President/Chief Executive Officer

San Juan Regional Medical Center


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