Pershing County Health Officer resigns with good news

After two years, Pershing County Health Officer Dr. Kamin Van Guilder has resigned from the position but she left on a happy note last week. As of March 23, there had been no new cases of COVID-19 in Pershing County for more than two weeks, she told the County Health Board.

“Excellent news for today! We have not had a case of COVID since March 7,” she said. “Let’s hope it stays that way forever. We know it won’t but let’s hope that it really stays down.”

The only variant of the virus she has seen in recent cases was Omicron and there have been no cases of Deltacron, the most recent known variant, Dr. Van Guilder told the health board. 

“We haven’t had any notification that it’s here in Nevada. It’s kind of another wait and see thing.”

The pandemic could be winding down but vaccines are still requested, Dr. Van Guilder said. According to the state, 35 to 37 percent of locals five years and older have been vaccinated.

“On the Nevada website for our county, they list a total of 5,858 total doses given to date. I’m assuming that includes people at the prison.”

First, second and third booster shots are still available at the Pershing General Hospital’s Physicians Clinic and a fourth booster may be in the works according to Dr. Van Guilder.

“There is ongoing discussion with the FDA about whether or not there’s going to be another boost recommended,” she said. “I don’t know the answer to that yet. So, wait for that news.”

COVID-19 treatments still available at the local hospital or the clinic include the oral Paxlovid antiviral, monoclonal antibody treatments, IV Saprominad and the Remdesivir antiviral.

“The other oral antiviral we don’t have available,” Dr. Van Guilder said. “We haven’t needed to use any of these because we haven’t had any cases for the last two weeks, thank the Lord!” 

The state Office of Public Health Investigation and Epidemiology is no longer requiring local health authorities “to keep tabs on numbers, contact trace or disease investigation.”

“If it looks like there’s a resurgence, they will notify us and we’ll change the plan again,” Dr. Van Guilder told the board. “For right now, that is a huge relief for those of us that have been doing that extra work. It’s also another good sign that things are calming down. So, that’s wonderful.”

On her last day as the Community Health Nurse In Pershing County, Marsha Foreman confirmed the news that the local pandemic seems to be fading away.

“We are seeing quite a decline in vaccines also so things are going well,” she said. “Today is my last day here in the clinic. I did talk to my supervisor and she said they are actively searching for a nurse to take this position but, as everyone knows, nurses are few and far between.”

Community health nurses will respond to Lovelock from Carson City as needed until the position is filled, Foreman said. Administrator Cheryl Hass will continue to staff the clinic and communicate local health and medical needs to the state, the local hospital and clinic. 

A flu POD is still planned for Oct. 6, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the community center.

Dr. Van Guilder reminded the board her resignation is effective May 1. Deputy County Health Officer Tyson McBride is interested and will be considered at the next commission meeting.

“I’m still going to be here in the community but I am going to step down from this,” she said. “We powered through, hopefully, the worst of it. I just need to step down to the helper position.”

“Thank you for everything. We could not have got through the COVID without you, Sean, Tyson, Marsha and everybody,” responded County Commissioner Carol Shank. “You guys provided great leadership and we are very grateful for it.”

A regional health district, to include Pershing County and Churchill County, is also “wonderful news” for Dr. Van Guilder. Shank said the district could begin serving communities next year.

“I’ve been attending the Central Nevada Health District meetings,” Shank said. “It should be in place in July, 2021. I think the services will be a lot better for the community. We’ve talked about reaching out to the community, the school district, the hospital, everybody, to see what services are needed so the district can provide the best for everybody.”

The next County Board of Health meeting is on May 4 at 1 p.m. in the county courthouse.