For more than three months we have been monitoring the developments surrounding the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and planning accordingly.
In response to what could be a significant public health event we have a multi-tiered response in place to address increasing patient volumes in our hospitals and clinics. This plan considers space, equipment and supplies needed to care for various volumes of inpatients. We have also included strategies to efficiently triage the worried well and ambulatory patients, the vast majority of which we know from global data will not need hospitalization.
For example, we are in the process of preparing dedicated off-site screening locations where we can direct patients for rapid evaluation.
We have very capable people working hard to anticipate and address circumstances when COVID-19 appears in Middle Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Health has today disclosed the first case in the state; that patient is not at VUMC. We will, in a HIPAA-compliant manner, share relevant information about any positive cases at VUMC with the caregivers for these patients.
We are fortunate to have internationally recognized infectious diseases clinicians and researchers here in our midst who are helping guide us. These experts, because they are so trusted, have for weeks been speaking through the news media to the public to provide important information and help calm fears about the virus. The expertise of our researchers is so respected they are leading global efforts to develop and test COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
We are not working alone. Our teams are collaborating with colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tennessee Department of Health, Metro Nashville Department of Health, and Tennessee Hospital Association regarding their plans to help care for patients.
We will have frequent communications about the COVID-19 virus and plans to address the needs of our people and our patients. We want to hear from you. If you have questions about COVID-19, please submit these to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will use your questions to help inform future communications.
I want to express my appreciation to everyone who has devoted considerable time already to help us prepare and am confident the talents of our people will see us through.
We are thinking about the safety and well-being of our caregivers. We have the appropriate clinical guidance and personal protective equipment (PPE) on hand for you to safely perform your work. In addition to having adequate supplies of the right equipment, there will be clearly defined processes for how to care for these patients.
C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD
Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer