The emergence of the novel coronavirus early this year presented the world with an unprecedented challenge. Not since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 have we faced such a daunting public health crisis. By late February, it was clear our health-care system, government and every American citizen would need to work together to conquer this invisible enemy.
Throughout this pandemic, we have found inspiration in witnessing the incredible and selfless work of caregivers at the front lines of our health system and across the country. The doctors, nurses, facility management teams and other support teams in our hospitals and clinics are giving everything they have to meet the needs of our Central Texas communities. These heroes are the embodiment of our mission to serve.
As we enter the seventh month of this public health crisis, I continue to take comfort in seeing the compassion and commitment of everyday citizens to protect our Central Texas communities, families and neighbors and help our health-care heroes stop this virus.
While we continue to learn about COVID-19, we know everyone in our community plays a crucial role in helping us all stay healthy and safe. Only through the cooperation of everyone can we continue to curb the high number of cases. We know prevention is key. Please continue to do your part by practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing masks while in public.
We appreciate the efforts of local businesses, institutions and schools that have developed and are implementing mitigation strategies, including mask guidelines and social distancing for their employees, customers and community members. We’ve seen many organized efforts come together over the past several months to ensure front-line workers and our most vulnerable community members have access to masks and other protective equipment.
We have been able to continue caring for our patients because of enhanced safety measures and protections in place across our hospital and clinics, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and recommendations by our clinical experts to safeguard patients’ health and well-being — as well as that of our caregivers — from COVID-19. Please remember that even amidst the pandemic, you should not delay annual wellness visits or urgent health-care needs. Much of the care we provide to our patients has been unrelated to COVID-19, and it is imperative that our patients continue to obtain timely and medically necessary care during this pandemic. Timely treatment is critically important for achieving the best outcomes and lessening the risk of complications. Our hospital and clinics are clean, safe and ready to care for you.
As we approach the cold and flu season, we are working ahead now to prepare for a potential influx of health-care needs at our local hospital and clinics. This year, more than ever, I encourage you to get the seasonal flu vaccine early, to protect you and your family and prevent unnecessary doctor’s visits.
Finally, from all of our dedicated workers on the front line at Ascension Providence, I want to thank the Waco community for rallying behind doctors, nurses and support staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The overwhelming support comes in various forms, from letters of encouragement from children to donations of meals for staff, along with many other acts of kindness from a caring community. We appreciate your acknowledgement and support throughout these unprecedented times.
Philip Patterson is president of Ascension Providence, part of Ascension, the nation’s largest non-profit health system and the world’s largest Catholic health system, operating 2,500 sites in 21 states and the District of Columbia.
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