By Nate Blackford, Mosaic Medical Center – Maryville president

Over 20 weeks ago, we began actively preparing for COVID-19 at Mosaic Medical Center – Maryville. And, over the past 14 weeks, I have been providing weekly updates via this column. I hope you have found these articles to be informative and helpful.

Now, as we settle into our “new normal,” I plan for this to be my final weekly column on the topic. That said, we will continue to provide updates and important information via social media and through this paper as the needs warrant.

So, what have we learned in 20 weeks?

As forecasted, managing this pandemic has been, and will be, a marathon, not a sprint. COVID-19 is not gone. The threat is still active. Positive cases continue to increase locally, regionally, nationally and globally. We must continue to take actions to mitigate the risks by taking care of ourselves and others.

To date, we have successfully flattened the curve in our area and avoided a population health outbreak. Simply stated, the demand for COVID-19 related healthcare services has remained within our capacity to address. The plans put in place have worked and are working.

Wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from others must become a normal part of how we live our lives for the foreseeable future. This is part of our “new normal” and remains the key to reducing the spread of the virus. We all share in the responsibility of helping to keep our vulnerable and at-risk populations safe. It’s not just about you.

Personal hand hygiene and other precautions are also important. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. When hand washing is not an option, use hand sanitizers and wipes with at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose and cough/sneeze into your elbow. Avoid touching your face and keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes. It all helps.

Our medical center remains a safe place to receive care. Everyone at the hospital has to wear a mask, is asked screening questions and has their temperature taken when entering the facility. Our facilities are regularly disinfected and maintained at the highest standards.

Delaying care can be detrimental to your health. In times of uncertainty, it remains important to take care of yourself and seek care when and where needed. Delaying care unnecessarily can result in more invasive and expensive interventions later. Please call your doctor with any health concerns and keep up with your regular wellness visits.

We, at Mosaic Medical Center-Maryville, sincerely appreciate the opportunity to serve you, our community, through this pandemic… and always. We aim to be the best and safest place to receive care.

I also want to again thank our caregivers. Our team has bravely leaned forward into the unknowns with teamwork, flexibility, courage, resilience and perseverance. I am proud to be part of their team.

In closing, please take care of yourself and others. We are in this together… and better together.