Letter from CEO John McLain
September 10, 2021
McMinn County is once again experiencing historic numbers since our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic began, and these numbers continue to rise rapidly. The numbers include not only individuals who are COVID-19 positive, but also the number of our family members, friends and neighbors who are hospitalized from this virus.
Our current COVID-19 situation is worse than it has ever been. It is heartbreaking, frustrating and exhausting – but above all, it is preventable. Like most healthcare facilities in our region, Starr Regional Medical Center is operating at the edge of our capacity. As members of this community, I’m asking for your help. Basic infection prevention measures like diligent hand hygiene, social distancing and avoiding large, close group gatherings will always help to lower the transmission of the virus. Additionally, the vaccine is also a strong preventative measure. Please talk with your provider about whether getting the vaccine is right for you.
Tennessee has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country at 44 percent of the population fully vaccinated. Our own community’s 33 percent vaccination rate is much lower than the state average. The number of COVID-19-positive patients we have admitted to the hospital, 97 percent of whom are unvaccinated, reached an all-time high in August. We are doing everything we can to manage the rapid increase in patients while also continuing to care for the ongoing, non-COVID-19 healthcare needs of our community.
Starr Regional physicians and staff are the most dedicated group of people with whom I have worked. They have performed expertly and professionally in the face of extreme pressures throughout the pandemic, ensuring the quality and safety of our patients comes first. They have cared and continue to care for our community members – their very own families, friends and neighbors – every day. Please join me in thanking them and supporting them.
Even amid this pandemic, we strongly urge our community not to delay your annual check-ups and screenings. If you are experiencing an emergency, it is important to call 9-1-1 or head to the nearest ER. You may experience longer wait times, but you will be seen. If your condition is less severe and not life-threatening, please consider seeking care and treatment at an urgent care clinic or your primary care provider’s office so ER staff can focus on the most critical needs. In addition, if you have no symptoms or illness and want to be tested for COVID-19, please do not come to the ER, but seek advice from your provider, the McMinn County Health Department or one of the available walk-in clinic locations.
I look forward to putting this pandemic behind us. Let’s all do our part by choosing to protect ourselves and others using every tool we have available.
CEO, Starr Regional Medical Center