COVID-19 has been an unprecedented challenge for everyone. Our nation has not faced such a daunting public health crisis since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918.
Back then, the Daughters of Charity, who founded our health system in Pensacola and Mobile, quickly responded and emerged as unexpected heroes. Today, our health care heroes walk in their footsteps. I’m extraordinarily grateful for all health care workers and particularly those with whom I’m so blessed to serve. But we can’t do this alone. We need your help.
COVID-19 is easily spread and can have devastating, long-lasting effects, but there are a few critical steps we can all take to reduce the risk of getting it or giving it:
- Maintain social distancing and wear a mask in public. Face coverings are especially important when you can’t stay at least six feet from others. We have many public safety standards that we widely follow, like obeying traffic laws to protect ourselves and others. This is no different.
- Wash your hands frequently. Use soap and water, washing for at least 20 seconds. Have hand sanitizer with you in case soap and water aren’t available. Try not to touch your face or face covering.
- Keep surfaces clean. Disinfect frequently used items and shared surfaces at home. Give disinfectants contact time with the surface.
- Get tested. If you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone who may have COVID-19, get tested immediately. Stay quarantined until you have a negative lab result.
- Don’t delay care. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or any other serious condition, we’re here for you 24/7. We’re safe. Don’t let a treatable condition become more serious. Get the care you need, today.
We appreciate the efforts of local businesses and organizations that are implementing plans to curb COVID-19’s spread, including mask and social distancing policies. I know these safety measures may seem uncomfortable, but we have a shared responsibility to care for others as if we’re caring for ourselves or our loved ones.
Again, get the care you need if you get sick, especially if it’s an emergency. Too often we’ve seen patients stay home during a health emergency because they were afraid to come to the hospital or their doctor’s office. We’ve made changes to our sites of care to protect you from COVID-19, so don’t delay the care you need.
We can and we must work together to beat COVID-19 by following these simple steps and listening to the advice of health care and infectious disease officials who provide us with proven techniques to help stop this serious, deadly virus from spreading.
Tom VanOsdol is president and CEO of Ascension Florida and Gulf Coast, which includes Ascension Providence based in Mobile, Ala., Ascension Sacred Heart based in Pensacola, Fla., and Ascension St. Vincent’s, based in Jacksonville, Fla.
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