Local healthcare leaders discuss ‘marathon’ COVID fight

by Jeremy Morrison, Inweekly

As the coronavirus season has stretched on and the pandemic has only intensified in states such as Florida, local health care facilities find themselves needing to rise to new challenges.

“We are at a point now that we were worried about being in April,” said Dawn Rudolph, president of Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola, during a Friday afternoon virtual roundtable.

During the roundtable, hosted by the University of West Florida’s College of Business, local healthcare leaders discussed how COVID has impacted their facilities and staff. They referenced an “element of exhaustion” and spoke about the emotional and psychological impact on health care workers, who they fear have the potential to develop PTSD. They described the ongoing and increasing efforts in the fight against the coronavirus as a “marathon.”

“Maybe we were a little bit hopeful that this wasn’t going to be a marathon, it was going to be a sprint — it’s going to be a marathon,” clarified Mark Faulkner, president/CEO of Baptist Health Care.

Faulkner also noted that it was important for local healthcare officials to confidently navigate the fight against COVID. What West Florida Hospital CEO Gay Nord, described as “calm under pressure.”

“People are looking to us to kind of set the tone of how we’re going to manage this process,” Faulkner said.

Another topic discussed during the UWF roundtable concerned changes local healthcare facilities have found beneficial. For example, some doctors are incorporating telemedicine into their services and even consulting with patients in their vehicles when there are concerns about entering a healthcare facility.

Insofar as impacts on healthcare workers, roundtable participants noted a “mission-driven” mentality and atmosphere where workers are rallying to the meet the moment.

“They’re holding up remarkably well, considering,” said Nord.

But officials also discussed a scary era in the profession where people are pushed to the limits and work under what Rudolph described as a “fear of the unknown, fear of the next thing coming.”

“They’re tired,” acknowledged Nord. “This is really starting to wear on.”

Faulkner said that community support was helpful in energizing local healthcare workers.

“I think it’s valuable how the community has wrapped themselves around caregivers,” he said.

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1 thought on “Local healthcare leaders discuss ‘marathon’ COVID fight

  1. And…the community awaits the acknowledgment from the hospital administrators that while some of us were being labelled tin foil hat crazies for trying to get the word out about how bad this was going to get upon reopening, and then trying to get the word out about what was really going on with our hospitals, they were sitting by knowing that the DOH was running data manipulation and apparently proceeding on some hope in–what?–that was going to come along and spare our front-liners and healthcare workers.

    This isn’t about “I told you so.” The words they are speaking *still* do not rise to the level of accountability necessary for them to actively lead during this crisis, instead of pretending that this was some calamity visited on them unawares.

    And local leaders have got to get to that level of accountability and actual leadership–immediately–if the coming worst of this virus can be curbed to a degree that we can still have some impact for our caregivers and the community at large.

    –What will they be doing about elective surgeries now that they have admitted that were incorrect about what should have been screaming eventualities?

    –Will they stand up to DeSantis if he continues in his push to allow families visitation?

    –Will they be at the upcoming BOCC meeting demanding that the County mandate masks so we can still have some impact on spread here?

    –Will they insist that the County start by cleaning its own house on all County property, including the jails?

    –Will they stop starving their own staff from data about where the workforce really is?

    –Will they inform the public about what the plan is, now that it is running amok? Calls for outside help? Other contingencies?

    –Will they work to encourage and support the new head of the DOH to be forthright in the facts of covid and what the real spread is in our communities?

    –If they aren’t willing to do these things now, at what point do they plan on doing so? Or is the idea just to soft-shoe the problem and then continue to hope for the best and cover up the worst?

    The time for soft-shoeing and puff pieces is over. It was over a long time ago.

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