Health First President & CEO Steve Johnson: Social Distancing Critical, We Will Get Through COVID-19 Together

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many people who test positive for COVID-19 have no symptoms and unaware they are infected

Health First President & CEO Steve Johnson: In the face of these challenging and uncertain times, we are witnessing the strength and fortitude of our community. Brevard is strong, caring and resilient. We are Brevard – and we’re going to get through this together. Be well and God Bless.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to our local healthcare heroes; physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, aides, environmental services workers, food services workers, everyone serving courageously on the frontlines of this fight.”

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – In the face of these challenging and uncertain times, we are witnessing the strength and fortitude of our community.

Such times require extraordinary measures and sacrifice and I believe, working together, we will prevail and emerge stronger than ever before.

My wife Cathy and I have had the privilege to call Brevard County our home for the last eight years. We have lived across this great nation of ours and there is no other place as special as this magnificent place we call home.

The people, history, spirit of community, pride with humility and the sheer beauty are unlike anything we have experienced elsewhere. Like nearly all of you, I have never experienced a circumstance as threatening and disruptive as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extreme pressure this pandemic is putting on our healthcare system is similar in intensity to how we prepare and serve Brevard during a hurricane. However, this storm cannot be directly seen, and the exact path and duration of the danger is unknown.

The preparedness we are all experiencing lasts for weeks and possibly months.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our local healthcare heroes; physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, aides, environmental services workers, food services workers, everyone serving courageously on the frontlines of this fight.

I know our team at Health First is blessed and encouraged by the community’s expressions of gratitude in the form of parades around our hospitals, handwritten signs of encouragement, the food deliveries, and the masks being made.

Words cannot express the gratitude we feel from your acts of caring.

And while we appreciate your expressions of gratefulness, I’ve learned that one act above all is truly needed to help our teams and our community. We need your help to stop the spread of this contagious virus by practicing SOCIAL DISTANCING.

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As encouraged by our local, state, and federal officials social distancing principles are simple:

▪ Maintain at least six feet of distance between persons
▪ Do not gather in groups larger than 10 while maintaining distance
▪ Do not leave your homes or property unless you are an essential worker or need essential supplies like food or medicine

Social distancing requires us to avoid entertaining friends and family in person. Instead, try a virtual meeting using apps like Zoom or Facetime. My wife and our daughters, with families living in Oklahoma and Missouri, had our first virtual happy hour this weekend.

And I must confess, even though the visit was brief, it helped our souls to connect with our family and affirm for us that which is truly important.

In addition to social distancing, we should all avoid touching our faces and obsessively wash our hands to lower our risk of contracting the virus. Social distancing and handwashing might feel uncomfortable to incorporate into your daily lives and many of you may question if it’s truly important.

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I can share with you several facts that make this practice incredibly important today:

▪ This virus is extremely contagious
▪ This virus is “novel” to humans; therefore, we have no group or “herd” immunity which allows it to move through populations quickly
▪ This virus has a relatively long incubation period (perhaps 5-14 days) at least some of the time during which persons could be infectious
▪ Alarmingly, many people who test positive for COVID-19 have no symptoms and are unaware that they are infected and might be infecting others

Please practice social distancing. Help us keep you, your family and healthcare providers safe and healthy. Health First is unwavering in our commitment be here when you need us, but we need your help to make that a reality.

Brevard is strong, caring and resilient. We are Brevard – and we’re going to get through this together. Be well and God Bless.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Health First President & CEO Steve Johnson is responsible for providing overall direction and leadership for Health First’s Integrated Delivery Network, which includes Health First Health Plans and its 130,000 covered lives, four hospitals—Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne (514 beds), Health First’s Palm Bay Hospital in Palm Bay (152 beds), Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa Beach (150 beds) and Health First’s Viera Hospital in Melbourne (84 beds) — as well as many outpatient, diagnostic and treatment centers, a multi-specialty physician practice, a network of fitness and wellness services and the only Heart Center and Level II Trauma Center in Brevard County.

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