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Jeff Balser, VUMC CEO and President: We are all essential

Mar. 24, 2020, 9:27 AM


Hi, everyone.

As you have heard by now, Metro government announced a “Safer at Home” order for Nashville directing businesses to close — except for those working in essential services. To avoid any doubt, VUMC — including all of us working here —are essential during this crisis.

Jeff Balser, MD, PhD

We support, along with all the hospitals in this region, the mayor’s decision. The order expands what we know works — social distancing. It will help us slow the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve” — reducing the chances we will be overwhelmed with cases at VUMC and at other local hospitals.

Even with the city’s order, the testing we’ve done so far suggests a great many people in our region are already infected. Until distancing measures take hold, those numbers will grow. Relatively few patients have been admitted at VUMC so far, but we expect that number to rise significantly over the next two weeks. High numbers of admissions will continue for some time.

As we prepare, let me re-emphasize that we are all essential. I have heard concerns about whether the financial impact of fewer on-site clinic visits or less elective surgery are causing us to consider reductions in force. Quite the opposite. To respond to this crisis, and then to manage all the delayed care after the crisis subsides, our concern is needing more people, not fewer. We do expect our finances to rebound when we reschedule the care patients will eventually need.

Already, we are working to identify VUMC employees in a wide array of roles with responsibilities that could be modified to help us manage a surge of inpatients. For example, some people with clinical training, but now in administrative roles, will receive “boot camp” preparation to assist with patient care. Others are learning new skills to assist where we have shortages, or additional needs such as our clinical laboratory.

As members of a highly regarded health care institution, we are all trusted sources of information — both in person and on social media. Please remember to share information from credible sources. You can follow and share posts from Vanderbilt Health or the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These sites contain up-to-date information about COVID-19 and our response.

Finally, this is an unprecedented public health event and our community is counting on us. Please continue to take good care of yourselves. If you need help — emotional or financial — please contact Work/Life Connections — EAP.

Everyone working here is important. Thank you for your positive energy and tireless work.

We’ll talk again soon.

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