End of COVID may be in sight

Published 9:07 pm Friday, March 12, 2021

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As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic, we may be seeing hope for the end of this craziness.  A lot has happened at Troy Regional in the past year. While preparing to speak to a civic group recently, I had the chance to reflect on some of those historical things.

Starting with the World Health Organization declaring the Global Pandemic on March 11, 2020. There were ZERO cases in Alabama at that time the following week, the Troy Regional Admin team began holding daily briefings and strategic planning.

Decisions were made to send all non-essential personnel home. I quickly realized that ALL my team here at Troy Regional were essential, however, accommodations were made for some to work remotely from home.

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The next day schools were canceled, visitation procedures were changed, and we closed our cafeteria to the public. With the closure of the schools, and 85 percent of our workforce being female, I wasn’t getting much sleep but with the help of our leadership team, in 48 hours, we opened a day care facility for our team members so that our nursing and other clinical team members could continue working.

This was just the beginning of the changes we had to make, and make quickly, as we dealt with the unknown. At this point in time, we still only had 39 cases in Alabama, but we knew what was coming. Elective surgeries were canceled, and visitation hours were changed again, this time to a NO visitors allowed. Social Distancing became a real thing.

On March 23, the COVID-19 Hotline number became the most memorized number in the building as we started collecting and testing for the COVID-19 virus. Since that time, some 48 weeks later, we have test-ed over 18,000 people in our community and surrounding communities. And then on March 27, Gov. Kay Ivey enacted her “Together Alabama” order and non-essential businesses were closed. Since that time, we have seen subsequent orders come from the state house such as “stay at home” and “safer at home” and the current “mask order.”

By the end of March, Alabama had 949 cases reported and Pike County had seen it’s first 4 cases. One year later and we have reached 500,000 cases in Alabama and more than 10,000 Alabamians have died from this horrible disease.

Troy Regional has been with our community every step of the way and we will continue being the health care resource for our Pike County area.

We cannot express our gratitude enough for the outpouring of community support, past and present. This has been a very trying year for everyone but particularly those in healthcare. As the CEO, I want to again thank our Troy Community for your unwavering support and to the 300 team members at Troy Regional, I am so proud to be a part of this team. This fight isn’t over yet, but as my old boxing coach would say, “we’ve got ‘em on the ropes.” Don’t become complacent and always remember:

•Wash your hands.

•Watch your distance.

• Wear your mask and be

• Willing to take the vaccine.

Rick E. Smith is chief executive officer of Troy Regional Medical Center.