Covid-19: Health leaders reflect two years later
"Our first challenges were managing our resources and keeping our frontline workers safe so that we could continue to serve the medical needs of the community."
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)— It’s been nearly two years since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. On Wednesday, leaders with Atrium Health Navicent held a panel discussion to talk about where they’ve been, how they’ve handled the pandemic, and where they’re going.
“Our first challenges were managing our resources and keeping our frontline workers safe so that we could continue to serve the medical needs of the community,” said Dr. Patrice Walker, Chief Medical Officer for Atrium Health Navicent.
Dr. Walker says with Covid-19 being a new virus, there was limited clinical information to work with and they had to adapt to each surge.
“We were tasked with maintaining services in the face of an ongoing threat. In response we limited and expanded our visitation policy as local cases rose and fell,” she said.
Atrium Health Navicent Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Sandy Duke, says they had to learn a lot about the virus in order to keep patients and staff members safe. Then as vaccines became available, they realized the need to make them more available to the community.
“We began to have mass vaccine events here and around the community,” he said. “So that began at the wellness center and then opened up a drive thru location at primary care west.”
Dr. Edward Clark, Medical Director for Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital, spoke about the challenges they dealt with in pediatric medicine. He says vaccination is the number one way of preventing disease.
“We don’t know what’s down the pipeline, what’s going to come up next,” he said. “But your best defense, even if you’ve had Covid, is to be fully vaccinated and fully boosted.”
Dr. Walker says they’re in a good place right now, but remain ready if another surge happens.
“This is not going away,” she said. “We’re not going to wake up tomorrow and magically it’s not going to be here anymore. So we’re learning how we live with it and transition from pandemic to endemic.”
Dr. Walker says it’s unclear if there will be another strain of Covid. She recommends to keep up with your local Covid-19 data and continue following pandemic safety protocols, like handwashing and wearing a mask in crowded places.