TRMC CEO speaks to Exchange Club

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, November 4, 2021

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Troy Regional Medical Center CEO Rick Smith told the Troy Exchange Club the coronavirus pandemic had created new challenges for health care as well as caused great tragedy in the past 18 months, but, throughout it all, TRMC had continued its mission to provide quality healthcare close to home.

Smith said he started at TRMC on Jan. 6, 2020, and had barely settled in when the pandemic was declared on March 11, 2020.

“The pandemic changed the world and it changed Troy,” Smith said. “Within a week, we had locked down the hospital and opened a child care center [for employees]. We had to create a child care center because 80 percent of our employees are women and mothers. All of the daycares were closed and we had to find a way to be able to keep them at work.”

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Smith said the by the end of March, there were 39 cases in Alabama and four in Pike County.

Smith said TRMC’s building was 52 years old and only had three negative pressure rooms — which, he said, means the air from inside the room is recirculated to the outside of the building. He said TRMC was able to convert 17 rooms to negative pressure rooms to provide a safer environment for staff and patients. He said Xenon Fever Defense screening stations were place at both entrances to help guard against the corona virus. On March 31, 2020, a mask mandate was put in place at TRMC. A mandate that still remains in place.

“There was no book on how to deal with this pandemic,” Smith said.

He said the hospital saw huge spike in the coronavirus cases in Pike County in June-August of 2020, December 2020 through January 2021, and again in July to August this year.

“I’ve never seen so much death in as hospital as I saw at Troy Regional Medical Center [during the pandemic],” Smith said. “Because of the coronavirus, we had more deaths in six weeks than we had in a year. We had our last two coronavirus patients in the hospital and one died last night after being on a ventilator for 57 days.”

Smith said the toll for the coronavirus in Pike County currently stands at 5,019 cases and 107 deaths. He said the hospital had administered 4,500 vaccines and 750 monoclonal treatments.

“The delta variant has subsided a bit, but we still need to use caution,” Smith said. “I support the vaccines. If not for vaccines, we’d still have polio.”

Smith said TRMC offers a vaccine clinic for coronavirus as well as booster shots from 1-4 p.m. each Friday.

Smith said while the coronavirus has been challenging, TRMC was still able to make improvements in healthcare options here at home.

He said TRMC acquired a clinic in Elba as well as opened a clinic in Brundidge during the pandemic. He said in Troy, TRMC opened its Womens Diagnostics Center, a Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center, as well as added a Syncope Care Center.