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Open letter to community

To the Journal editor

As the current board chairman and chief of staff at UPHS-Marquette, we wanted to take this opportunity to address some of our community’s concerns. The current COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to overwhelm our national health resources. Containment of the disease begins with each of us practicing social separation and self-quarantine at any sign of illness. If you are ill contact your doctor for direction as to the best avenue for assessment and care given your symptoms.

We want to reassure you that UPHS-Marquette and the local healthcare community stand ready to respond to the challenge of COVID-19. We have a broad team of experts at UPHS-Marquette.

Our infection control preventionist, Amy Kilroy, has been following the pandemic from its origin and updating the medical staff and hospital leadership. She has been collaborating with our local health department leadership, Dr. Kevin Piggott.

With her master’s in public health and certification in infection prevention and control, she is well-positioned to lead this effort.

Alyson Sundberg, our director of Emergency Services and a paramedic, is coordinating our broad response and has been participating in National Coordination efforts. Our leadership team headed by CEO Gar Atchison and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Wael Khouli have worked to provide the infrastructure needed to respond to this challenge.

Gar’s experience leading a hospital command center during national emergencies such as hurricanes has proven extremely valuable to us in the past couple of weeks. Our Chief Operating Officer Steven Salyer, a former Marine captain, served in Iraq and ran a command center there.

A dedicated acute respiratory illness assessment and treatment unit adjacent to the Emergency Department with separate entrance and current plans for an outside-the-hospital-assessment center are small components of the overall response.

Most individuals who are ill in the coming weeks will suffer from non-COVID-19 infections; our clinical team led by board-certified infectious disease specialist Dr. John Wallace is prepared to assist our clinicians with differentiating these illnesses.

Our ICU is led by board-certified intensivists Drs. Amanda Benson and Brian Turner and have multiple phase plans on caring for respiratory patients separate from other ill patients.

During these challenging times, our institution is limiting some elective care to protect our patients and conserve valuable resources. We stand ready to treat any emergency; our Trauma Center and Emergency Department staffed with 10 board-certified Emergency Medicine physicians, cardiac services, obstetrics, and other critical services remain fully functional for 24/7 response to any emergent issues.

The COVID-19 pandemic changes daily and UPHS-Marquette is evolving its care plan and facilities to be best prepared to meet the needs of the region. The most important factor in controlling the disease lies in your hands. Proper hygiene, social separation, and judgment will be key to preventing and containing the disease in our region.

Dr. John Bartlett

UPHS-Marquette

Board Chairman

Dr. Craig Coccia

UPHS-Marquette

Chief of Staff