Regional West Focused on Patient, Staff, Visitor Safety

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb., ― As vaccination rates continue to climb and masking guidelines continue to relax, Regional West remains focused on the safety of its patients, staff, and visitors.

In the interest of safety, masks are still required in all Regional West facilities, and COVID-19 screening questions are asked, even for individuals who are fully vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has emphasized masks should still be worn in healthcare settings.

Regional West will continue to monitor and adjust its best practices based on local conditions and following CDC guidelines, according to Regional West Chief Medical Officer Matthew Bruner, MD, FACOG. 

“We will continue to screen at Regional West and require masks in an effort to keep the environment safe for our patients, physicians, providers, and staff,” Dr. Bruner said.

With Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson brands of COVID-19 vaccine all available in the region, Dr. Bruner encourages people aged 12 and up to get vaccinated. He said while vaccines are effective, the virus continues to mutate, so masking remains beneficial to help prevent the spread of the disease in hospitals and clinics.

In addition to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, Dr. Bruner said mask usage may also contribute to prevention of other respiratory illnesses, such as colds and flu. He recommends practices such as hand washing and sanitizing to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.

Increased numbers of COVID-19 cases are showing up in younger people, and nearly 90 percent of new cases are in those who are unvaccinated. Dr. Bruner said vaccination can help prevent the spikes that are happening sporadically throughout Nebraska and the rest of the country.

Vaccines remain effective against the COVID-19 Delta variant that has become the most prominent strain in the United States, however, Dr. Bruner said even those who are fully vaccinated can still be at risk.

With millions of doses administered worldwide, Dr. Bruner said the vaccines are “no longer experimental in nature.” COVID-19 vaccines are more reactive than more common vaccines, he said. Some people may see common side effects such as pain and swelling in the arm that received the shot, along with fever, chills, fatigue, and/or headache may affect your ability to do daily activities, but should go away in a few days.

People who have had COVID-19 previously may still benefit from the vaccination. The natural immunity from having the virus is still being studied.  “Those who have already had COVID-19 still benefit from the vaccine,” Dr. Bruner said. “There is still good coverage from all three of the available vaccines even if you’ve had the virus.”

Regional West Health Services in Scottsbluff, Neb., is the parent company of Regional West Medical Center, a 188-bed regional referral center and the only Level II Trauma Center in Nebraska west of Kearney. As the region’s only tertiary referral medical center, Regional West offers care that spans more than 32 medical specialties provided by over 28 physician clinics. With nearly 300 in-network providers and approximately 2,000 staff members, Regional West provides comprehensive and innovative health care services for the people of western Nebraska and the neighboring states of Colorado, South Dakota, and Wyoming.