Joann Anderson is retiring at the end of the year as CEO of UNC Health Southeastern, the hospital in Lumberton formerly known as Southeastern Regional Medical Center. In a public Facebook post published over the weekend, she expressed her anger and disappointment at the divided response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m sitting here today totally frustrated, disappointed and angry. Why? You see, I am CEO of UNC Health Sputheastern. I am frustrated because for the past 18 months the staff, providers and clergy have been fighting what appears to be a public health battle consumed by political divide. In other health crises, the health care community, experts and leaders have been able to lead the efforts to resolution. The public listened to us. We were able to make a difference. My team is tired…no EXHAUSTED! Disappointed, you ask…yes. Today there are 41 inpatients at SRMC that are COVID positive. All beds in the ICU except one are filled with COVID patients. The healthcare experts and leaders have ways to control this…VACCINATIONS, MASKS, SOCIAL DISTANCING WASHING OUR HANDS FREQUENTLY! Yet, we are going through another surge because people are not following what the medical community knows will make a difference. ANGRY…you bet I’m angry. I’m angry because my team of healthcare heroes need community support. Yes, we love recognition, food, parades etc …all those things you did for us last year. This year, we need you to step up and take part in the solution.
We have nurses, doctors and other valuable healthcare workers leaving because they are exhausted! They risk their lives and those of their families everyday to help you! Today, I have 41 staff members out of work because they too are COVID positive. That is 41 people critical to the care team. Our beds are full. We have nowhere to put the next patient that needs ICU care. People are complaining about wait times in the ER. The ER is backed up because our beds upstairs are full!! What will happen when you need care? Everyday, we are doing everything we can to make sure you have access to care. That battle is behind the scenes. You shouldn’t have to know about it but it’s real!! You want great care in our community when you need it, I want to make sure it’s there for you. I am pleading with you to help me help you.
I consider myself a servant leader to my team. I’m failing them because I can’t tell them an end is in sight. I’m failing them because 41 of their teammates are out with COVID! I’m failing them because I don’t have answers to their questions.
Having said that, this post is not about me…it’s about everyone in our community who will need care at some point. I’m frustrated, disappointed and angry. I’m sad and disillusioned.
Thank you to those of you that have been vaccinated and those continuing to follow mask recommendations. You are my heroes.