Carol Burrell, President & CEO
Northeast Georgia Health System
Now that we are all fighting together against COVID-19, it’s hard to believe that the hot topic at last month’s Chamber Board of Directors meeting was E-SPLOST. That’s not to say E-SPLOST isn’t important, because it certainly is, but very few people that day were concerned about the impending pandemic that would rock our nation, state and community. Those who were aware of the virus then knew it by a different name – Coronavirus – and it seemed a world away in China.
Leap forward four weeks, and I bet there’s not a single person in our community who hasn’t been impacted by COVID-19. It’s a difficult time for everyone, and it’s especially tough on businesses. Many are seeing fewer customers or closing their doors temporarily, which means employees are laid off. Some companies that were just starting or already in a difficult position may never open again. There’s no doubt it’s a dark time for our economy.
Yet, against all odds, there’s already light shining through the dark. It’s been amazing to see our local business community rally to the aid of those in need. Whether it’s finding ways to pay employees when they aren’t working, arranging free meals for families or donating supplies and innovating ways to create personal protection equipment for our local healthcare community – the generosity goes way beyond dollars and cents. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions, and your efforts, our community’s efforts have been extraordinary.
But, there’s still a few things we all need to do, together, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. First and foremost – STAY HOME. The importance of isolating and practicing social distancing in your own house can’t be overstated. Only leave the house for essential trips like going to the grocery store, picking up medications or for absolute emergencies.
If you do start to feel sick, follow these simple steps:
1) Monitor your symptoms at home. Pay close attention to symptoms like fever, persistent cough, difficulty breathing and bluish lips or face.
2) Call before you come. If you feel you need to leave home for care, call your doctor’s office first to discuss your symptoms and get direction about where to go. If you don’t have a doctor, call an urgent care clinic or find a practice online at ngpg.org. You can also complete an online E-Visit from home by visiting ngpg.org/evisit.
3) Rely on healthcare providers to determine if you need to be tested. Caregivers will evaluate your symptoms and will coordinate testing if needed.
Last, but not least, please join me in thanking our local healthcare workers. These brave men and women are on the frontlines of this battle. People ask me what they can do to help our employees at Northeast Georgia Health System in this time of crisis, and the best thing you can do to help is stay home. The sooner we do that as a community, the sooner we can get back to other important issues like E-SPLOST.
We have a long road ahead to overcome this pandemic, and we won’t have a quick fix. It will require all of us being diligent and committed to doing the right, yet difficult, things.
Thank you, and I hope you all stay safe and healthy.