Editor's note: Following is an open letter to the community from Archbold President and CEO Perry Mustian.
Summer is upon us, and we all share the desire to find the right balance between appropriate COVID-19 precautions and the normal rhythms of work, shopping, vacations, etc. To help the community as they consider this, I would like to share some information from our perspective as the healthcare system for a multi-county region.
The good news:
• The numbers of COVID-positive patients in Archbold facilities are lower than they were in April and the first half of May, and we are truly thankful for that. We attribute much of this to the actions taken across our community to closely follow CDC guidance and local recommendations.
• This has given us a chance to catch our breath and manage the COVID patients we do have, while being able to safely care for surgical patients and others that need our services and allow some visitation, although still with restrictions.
• We are thankful that our local businesses have been able to reopen with reasonable safeguards in place.
The concerning news that we must not ignore:
• COVID-19 cases are still being identified every week across Thomas, Grady, Brooks and Mitchell counties.
• Colquitt County and Lowndes County are experiencing significant increases in the number of new cases in recent weeks.
• Leon County in Florida (Tallahassee) is also experiencing an increase in cases.
• We are beginning to see slight increases in the number of hospitalized COVID patients in our system over the past couple of weeks. We hope this isn’t a significant trend, but we do note it.
• We are seeing an increase in the number of patients with symptoms being sent to our outpatient screening site with a physician’s order for COVID-19 test.
• Our communities are growing weary of precautions, and fewer people are wearing a cloth face masks and social distancing in public.
Our recommendations for the community:
• Please continue to wear cloth face masks, use good hand hygiene and physically distance yourselves from others when in public. We enjoy the freedom to make choices, so please consider thinking of others and making this choice for your community.
• If you have even the slightest concern that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to be COVID-19 tested at the Thomas County Health Department on Smith Avenue in Thomasville (or other sites across our region). The State of Georgia has made this available to all citizens, regardless of symptoms or lack of symptoms, and it is an opportunity to identify asymptomatic infected persons who need to quarantine and protect others.
• Encourage family and friends to not let our guard down at a time when we are being reminded that COVID-19 is still among us.
None of us wants to go back to where we were a few months ago, and we must work together to prevent that.
President and CEO
Archbold Medical Center