Knoxville health leaders reflect on COVID-19 response one year into pandemic

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Whereas there are areas of success throughout the well being group, there have been additionally shortcomings. Well being leaders hope the group is on a shiny path.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — Well being leaders in Knoxville are reflecting on the previous 12 months spent in a pandemic: the accomplishments, shortcomings and outlook within the medical subject.

The primary case of COVID-19 reported in Knox County got here on March 12, 2020. Since then, the numbers of constructive circumstances, hospitalizations and deaths fluctuated via the rest of 2020 and into 2021.

Knoxville and Knox County had been marked as “hotspots” by the Facilities for Illness Management starting in the summertime 2020 months.

Subsequent week marks three months since vaccines arrived in Knox County and circumstances began to say no.

Charity Menefee, Knox County Well being Division’s Director of Communicable and Environmental Illness and Emergency Preparedness, stated there is no approach they may have imagined what the final 12 months would have been like.

“We’re so happy with the workforce that we’ve and the work that they’ve achieved,” Menefee stated. “We stay dedicated to our group and we’ll proceed to work via that, hopefully, the tip of this pandemic and thru the restoration course of that we’ll hopefully be seeing very quickly.”

Greater than 34,600 persons are at the moment on the waitlist for vaccines in Knox County.


UT Medical Heart’s Senior Vice President, James Shamiyeh, stated in a press convention Thursday he knew the pandemic would not be right here for a brief stint. He additionally stated he feels the vaccines launched a “shiny spot” locally.

“I am hopeful that the following three months of our vaccination involvement look lots just like the final three months did,” Shamiyeh stated.

Shamiyeh believes there will not be a single day when the county is ready to say that the pandemic is over, and as an alternative, every part will proceed to occur in phases.

“What we’ve to recollect is, on reflection, all of these issues that we did previously 12 months, they make a number of sense now, however after we had been in the course of it, we had been studying as we went, and I feel there’s nonetheless going to be a component of that, for these subsequent phases of the pandemic, as to what precisely post-pandemic life appears to be like like,” Shamiyeh stated.

He believes there are issues the healthcare system has discovered all through this worldwide well being disaster that may stick round, like providing telehealth providers. 

Shamiyeh added the largest successes over the past 12 months have been the vaccine rollout and the collaboration between the collective healthcare suppliers in Knox County. They now really feel better-equipped to deal with well being crises now that trial-and-error phases have run the course.

“I actually really feel that we’ve a top-notch healthcare supply system on this group. The truth that we’ve hospitals which might be able to serve vital populations of sufferers and each hospital had a surge plan, the place we created these early and modified them as we went,” Shamiyeh stated. “The flexibility to reply and have that on a big scale, rapidly, is one thing that we might need to deal with the following time.”

With the ability to check for COVID-19 early-on was an enormous asset in UTMC’s eyes. Testing turnaround time has solely gotten quicker nationwide.

There have been sure issues Shamiyeh believes might have been dealt with higher. Entry to Protecting Private Gear was an enormous one.

“Understanding that we had the PPE that we would wish to have within the very starting, and never having to navigate via that early within the pandemic, would have been one thing that might have been very useful,” Shamiyeh stated.

Seeking to the long run, Shamiyeh is hopeful healthcare employees on the entrance traces affected by “compassion fatigue” are in a position to bounce again.

RELATED: UT Nursing Dean: ‘Compassion Fatigue’ might improve for healthcare employees throughout pandemic

“We’re in a greater part proper now than we had been earlier than, however we nonetheless have a major variety of circumstances, we’ve fewer hospitalizations than we did earlier than,” Shamiyeh defined. “So these well being care employees have had a chance to recharge just a bit bit and I feel that with that recharging no matter factor of compassion fatigue that was there will get restored.”

There’s nonetheless a lot the well being system in Knox County is studying concerning the pandemic and they’re mourning the losses related to the virus locally.

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