As virus infections spike, NC hospitals issue public plea to the unvaccinated

With COVID-19 infection rates spiking across North Carolina due, in large part, to the rapid spread of the omicron variant — particularly amongst unvaccinated individuals — the following open letter was distributed today by the North Carolina Hospital Association on behalf of 50 North Carolina health system and hospital chief executive officers and chief medical officers representing more than 115 hospitals.

January 12, 2022 

To the patients, families and communities we are proud to serve:  

It is our mission to care for you and support you – a commitment that will never waver. That’s why we want to be up front with you: North Carolina is at a critical juncture in the battle against COVID-19 and we need your immediate help to slow community spread of the virus. 

The omicron variant is highly infectious. While it might cause only mild illnesses for some people, including some who have been vaccinated, our hospitals are filling up fast with COVID patientsa vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. This situation is putting daily strain on our ability to care for those who have other urgent medical needs that are not COVID-related. It is heartbreaking, which is why we are reaching out to you. 

With COVID-19 spreading like wildfire, your personal decisions about how to coexist with the virus directly affect the health and well-being of your family and community. Our best chance of returning to living healthy, normal lives is to make sure our families, friends and work colleagues are choosing to be vaccinated and getting their recommended booster shots.  

Here is some important information to know:  

  • Vaccine and booster doses are readily available. They help the human immune system to be ready to recognize and fight back against COVID-19 infection. Vaccinated people are less likely to require hospitalization or die from COVID-19. 
  • You can get the virus again even if you had it before. Antibodies from an actual infection do not last as long as the antibodies produced in response to the vaccine, which is why vaccination is recommended even for people who have had COVID.
  • Everyone ages 5 and older can get vaccinated. Everyone ages 12 years and older can also get a booster shot. 
  • It’s okay to have questions about vaccines. If you do, talk to a health care professional you trust.

Also please continue to practice the 3 W’s, protecting each other by wearing a mask properly covering your nose and mouth, waiting six feet apart (social distancing), and washing or disinfecting hands frequently 

We will eventually get past this. But first, let’s work together to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19 in our local communities and make 2022 a happy and healthy new year. 


Teresa Herbert, MD, MPH, FAAP, Chief Medical Officer
AdventHealth Hendersonville 

Chuck Mantooth, President & Chief Executive Officer
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System

Eugene A. Woods, MBA, MHA, FACHE President and Chief Executive Officer
James Hunter, MD, Enterprise Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer
Atrium Health

Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, Chief Executive Officer
Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and Dean, Wake Forest School of Medicine 

Kevin P. High, MD, President
Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist 

Laura Easton, RN, MBA, President & Chief Executive Officer
David Lowry, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer
Caldwell UNC Healthcare 

Michael Nagowski, Chief Executive Officer
Sam Fleishman, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Cape Fear Valley Health System 

Roxie Cannon Wells, MD, President, Hoke Healthcare/Hospital
Cape Fear Valley Health

Chris Peek, President & Chief Executive Officer
CaroMont Health 

Harvey Case, President
Clyde Brooks, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Carteret Health Care 

Edward Beard, Jr. DNP, RN, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer 
Dr. Andrew Chesson, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Catawba Valley Health System 

Chris Fensterle, Chief Executive Officer
Central Carolina Hospital, a Duke LifePoint Hospital 

Mary Jo Cagle, MD, Chief Executive Officer
Cone Health 

Clyde Wood, Network Chief Executive Officer
Davis Regional Medical Center
Lake Norman Regional Medical Center 

Barbara Griffith, MD, President
Michael Spiritos, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Duke Raleigh Hospital 

Katie Galbraith, MBA, FACHE, President
Adia Ross, MD, MHA, Chief Medical Officer
Duke Regional Hospital 

Tom Owens, MD, President
Lisa Pickett, MD, FACS, Chief Medical Officer
Duke University Hospital 

Mickey W. Foster, Chief Executive Officer
Jenifir Bruno, MD, Chief Medical Officer
FirstHealth of the Carolinas 

Greg Caples, Chief Executive Officer
Susan Mahoney, Chief Nursing Officer, RN, MSN, CPPS
Haywood Regional Medical Center 

John G. Green, FACHE, President & Chief Executive Officer
Joseph C. Mazzola, DO, CPE, MBA
Iredell Health System 

Greg Lowe, President
Mission Health, HCA Healthcare North Carolina Division 

Paul Hammes, Chief Executive Officer, FACHE
Jonathan R. Snyder, MD, FAAOS, Chief Medical Officer
Mary F. Blackburn, RN, MSN, FACHE, Vice President for Care Innovation/Chief Clinical Officer
Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital 

Tom Williams, Chief Executive Officer
Randy McCaskill, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Johnston UNC Health

Chris A. Lumsden, FACHE, President & Chief Executive Officer
Jason W. Edsall, MD, FACEP, Chief Medical Officer
Robin H. Hodgin, RN, MHA, NE-BC, Senior Vice President, Patient Services & Chief Nursing Officer
Northern Regional Hospital 

Steve Lawler, President & Chief Executive Officer
North Carolina Healthcare Association 

Carl S. Armato, President & Chief Executive Officer |
Novant Health 

Penney Burlingame Deal, DHA, RN, FACHE, President & Chief Executive Officer
Steven Spencer, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer
Onslow Memorial Hospital 

Jay Kirby, President & Chief Executive Officer
Pardee UNC Health Care 

Greg Wood, Chief Executive Officer
Shelly S. Lowery, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Scotland Health Care System 

Phillip E. Jackson, FACHE, DSL, President
Donald Bowling, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Sentara Albemarle Medical Center 

A Wesley Burks, MD, Chief Executive Officer
UNC Health Care and Dean, UNC School of Medicine 

Kathy C. Bailey, FACHE, President & Chief Executive Officer
Anthony Frank, Jr., MD, MBA, FACEP, CPE, Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer
UNC Health Blue Ridge 

Ernie Bovio, President
Linda Butler, MD, Chief Medical Officer
UNC Rex Healthcare 

Steve Eblin, President & Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Candace Bradley, DO, Chief Medical Officer
UNC Rockingham Health Care 

Chris Ellington, President & Chief Executive Officer
UNC Health Southeastern

Michael R. Waldrum, MD, MSc, MBA
Chief Executive Officer Vidant Health
Dean, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University 

Donald R. Gintzig, President & Chief Executive Officer

Mark Holyoak, Chief Executive Officer
Ron Stahl, MD, Chief Medical Officer
Wilson Medical Center, A Duke LifePoint Hospital

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