SeHealth CEO urges community effort to fight virus

Until now, I have not publicly addressed the coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19. Why? Because, my team and I have been trying to plan for the what-ifs, hoping they never come true. At Southeastern Health, we have planned for the worst-case scenario to the best of our abilities. We want to be able to serve you when needed. We want to have all the resources available when you need it. We have worked tirelessly to ensure we have supplies, people and equipment at the most critical times. We desperately need your help.

We now have more than one confirmed case of coronavirus in Robeson County. Community spread is upon us. This virus will spread to others.

The president of the United States and governor of North Carolina have asked us to practice social distancing. They have encouraged us to be vigilant with handwashing. They have mandated closures and modified our access to services. All of this is done to “flatten the curve.”

Why do we need to flatten the curve? Because if everyone gets sick at the same time, there are not enough supplies, people and equipment in the health-care system to handle the volume. If we are successful in flattening the curve in Robeson County, everyone who gets coronavirus can have access to the best we have to offer. Flattening the curve doesn’t mean it just goes away. The same number of people may be affected. Flattening the curve spreads the number of cases over a longer period of time. Thus, allowing the resources to be available when needed.

Do I think we are prepared? I want to think we are. But, we need the cooperation of everyone. Do your part, stay home unless absolutely necessary. Wash your hands vigilantly. Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not the air. Stand six feet away from people if you do have to go out. If we all cooperate, we can make a difference.

I am so proud of the Southeastern Health team, community providers and the Health Department as we have worked through the plans for a surge of affected patients. I pray for our community and our health-care teams as we face this challenge. Robeson County has faced challenges from hurricanes and other environmental disasters. We have never faced this type of crisis. Let’s all pull together to minimize the impact.

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Joann Anderson is president and CEO of Southeastern Health.

Joann Anderson is president and CEO of Southeastern Health.