With the COVID-19 pandemic on an upswing, Southern Tennessee Regional Health System-Winchester/Sewanee says it is prepared to handle increased hospitalization cases.
However, the hospital is urging residents to take necessary steps to reduce spreading the coronavirus.
Cliff Wilson, the hospital’s chief executive officer, said that STRHS’s top priority continues to be protecting the health and safety of patients, providers, employees and the communities it serves.
“Like our fellow healthcare providers, we continue to be challenged by the concerning trend of COVID-19 in our local community and across the nation,” Wilson said. “The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise rapidly across the country, and the same is true here at home in Franklin County. In fact, COVID-19-related hospitalizations have reached an all-time high across Tennessee since this public health crisis began.”
Wilson said area residents need to understand that the crisis is not isolated to urban areas and larger cities.
“COVID-19 is a very real problem in the smaller communities we serve, as well,” he said. “Small towns and rural areas across the country and across Tennessee have seen a rapid acceleration of COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks, and our hospital has felt the impact.
“Unfortunately, the continued surge and prevalence of COVID-19 has the potential to overwhelm the local healthcare delivery system, which is why we all must do our part to protect ourselves, our healthcare workers and our communities.”
With up to 40 percent of those infected showing few to no symptoms, the virus can spread quickly, Wilson said, adding that, combined with cooler temperatures and the annual flu season, Franklin County is facing what could be a particularly challenging fall and winter.
“We strongly urge our community members to be even more diligent in their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the months ahead,” Wilson said.
He said the hospital is prepared to handle an influx of patients and expand the capacity of the facility if needed.
“We continue to closely monitor the prevalence of the virus in our community and build upon our hospital’s emergency operations plan, which maps out – among many things – our escalation plan in the event of a surge of patients,” Wilson said. “We cannot speculate on what could happen over the coming weeks and months, but we can assure everyone that we are working hard to plan for all of these scenarios and adapt our hospital operations to safely care for and support our community during this evolving pandemic.”
He said that more than eight months into the pandemic, residents simply cannot let their guard down.
“You can rest assured that the Southern Tennessee Regional Health System’s team won’t,” Wilson said. “But it is going to take all of us being extra cautious and taking every possible preventive measure to change the course of the pandemic and avoid a greater healthcare and economic crisis.
“We call upon every community member in Franklin County to lead by example — wear a mask over your nose and mouth, wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing and avoid group gatherings.
“Together we can make a difference and make our communities healthier."