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Officials hope 10 COVID-19 deaths within a day at Olympia hospital prompt vaccinations

Ten patients died due to COVID-19 at Olympia's St. Peter Hospital within 24 hours.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Ten patients at Olympia’s Providence St. Peter Hospital died in a 24-hour period last week, a record amount over one day, according to county health officials.

None of the patients were vaccinated, officials said.

“Ten deaths within a 24-hour period is previously unheard of here in Thurston County,” said Thurston County Health Officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek.

Calling the figure startling, Abdelmalek chose to publicize the deaths to prompt more citizens to get vaccinated.

“I’m hoping that the folks who are still worried have that conversation with their health care providers to address some of those concerns,” Abdelmalek said.

She said approximately 59.2% of the county’s population have initiated the vaccination process.

“It’s extremely, emotionally draining to hold someone’s hand, on a daily basis, that’s dying,” said Julie Heerlyn, a registered nurse and director of Emergency Services and Administration at Providence St. Peter Hospital.

She said it’s frustrating when medical staff learn patients chose not to get vaccinated.

“I call it the moral distress of nursing right now,” Heerlyn said. “It’s very, very hard to hear patients come in and say, ‘Well I didn’t think COVID was real.’”

A spokesperson said hospital staff does not track daily COVID deaths, but said prior to the 10 patients who died in that 24-period, the most patients to die in one day from COVID at Providence St. Peter was likely six.