An Open Letter from the Physicians of Mississippi
Our Dearest Fellow Mississippians,
With record-breaking daily case numbers of the deadly COVID-19 virus surging to dizzying new heights, the physicians of Mississippi, who have been serving on the front lines of the state’s pandemic response since the beginning of 2020, write to you urgently to request your direct assistance in combatting the spread of COVID-19.
The highly anticipated and deadliest third wave that we are currently experiencing is placing an unbearable and unsustainable strain on physicians, healthcare workers, hospitals and medical facilities statewide. Hospitals are full and soon to enter a next phase of a crisis system of care. Physicians, nurses and other first responders are mentally and physically overwhelmed and exhausted. The toll of the pandemic has become personal not only to our citizens but also to our physicians, as we are losing Mississippians each day, at an insurmountable rate – many of these losses are physicians and healthcare workers.
We appeal to you, not just as healthcare professionals, but as your partners in health, and as your neighbors, friends and family. We have been your trusted source of quality healthcare from the birth of your children, to the birth of your grandchildren. We have held your very hearts in our hands for complex surgeries and have helped you determine cancer treatment regimens. We have shared your joys and sorrows, and we will continue to provide the same quality care through each milestone to occur in your lives.
This pandemic has never been about prolonged lockdowns or an economy versus medicine situation. Physicians believe in public health measures to stamp out the disease so that businesses and schools can thrive and remain open, and patrons will be able to visit them without anxiety. You’ve trusted us for so much over the years when it comes to sound advice regarding the health of your family and our communities. In a pandemic we continue to come to you with sound and truthful medical advice.
Like those life milestones mentioned above, with many still left to be experienced, we will also face hardships, and weather storms, and we must do this in the same manner – TOGETHER. This deadly virus is no exception.
Healthcare professionals look forward to reaching some form of normalcy in our lives just as all Mississippians do, but at this time, we are operating at the speed of science awaiting the arrival of a vaccine. As we wait for the safety and approval process to be completed, we must remain vigilant by adhering to the steps proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Wear a mask.
The statewide mask mandate is over, but the pandemic isn’t. Be sure that your mask covers your nose and mouth and wear them in all public spaces. If we must make this about personal liberty, then we should recognize that we have the liberty to make good and responsible decisions and that protecting ourselves and others from a contagion should not be a controversial request. Wearing masks has repeatedly proven to have dramatic results in efforts to decrease transmission of disease. Getting the level of community spread down also decreases the risk of exposure to our healthcare workers as they work to provide care to our loved ones.
2. Avoid gatherings.
As we continue through the holiday season, protect the people you love by celebrating responsibly. This means sacrificing in-person social events, meetings and functions, to reduce the risk of infecting friends and family, and ensure that they are around for future celebrations. Yes, unfortunately, this recommendation is not a “fun” one. Currently, as the virus rages out of control, we recommend making new traditions with your nuclear family and avoiding gatherings. Just as the virus does not care about political party, it also is not aware that it is a holiday season, and it loves indoor crowds. The virus is 20 times more likely to spread indoors versus outdoors.
3. Wash your hands.
Spread joy, not germs, this holiday season. Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.
This is not forever but these things are highly impactful and as we watch our colleagues sicken and some die, we feel compelled to remind the public that we are now your LAST line of defense. You personally hold the keys to your own health and to others as well as the risks posed to our healthcare heroes working daily to save lives. We call on you all to do your part to protect yourselves and each other.
Mississippi physicians are committed now, more than ever before, to provide a trusted voice to patients diagnosed with coronavirus, and those with other healthcare needs. In addition to the measures listed above, we ask that you trust us, as you always have, to act in the best interests of the health and safety of yourselves and your families as we navigate through these difficult and unprecedented times. There is LIGHT at the end of this tunnel. Let’s get as many Mississippians across the finish line of the pandemic as possible.
With gratitude and hope,
W. Mark Horne, MD
Jennifer Bryan, MD
Chair, MSMA Board of Trustees
Claude D. Brunson, MD
Executive Director, MSMA