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A holiday message from Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer Dr. Wright Pinson with important information about meeting the challenges ahead for VUMC from the omicron variant

Dec. 23, 2021, 3:53 PM

C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD

Colleagues,

As we contemplate the holidays, we have another battle — another surge developing in our war against the pandemic. The omicron variant has quickly become the dominant strain of the virus and is already responsible for three-fourths of infections in Tennessee and the nation.

The Tennessee Department of Health reports that the state’s average number of COVID infections per day has nearly doubled since a low point in November. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the omicron variant spreads far more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, and anyone with an omicron infection can spread the infection to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms. Booster vaccinations are now proven effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths from both the omicron and delta variants.

All that information leads me to strongly encourage those eligible to get their boosters — for their own welfare and to make our environment as safe as possible. Employees who have not already received a COVID-19 booster are eligible six months after receiving their second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or two months after their initial J&J/Janssen vaccine. Employees can go to the Occupational Health Clinic (OHC) during hours of operation, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., or to any Vanderbilt Health location that is convenient, including Vanderbilt Health Walk-In Clinics. Additional locations for booster can be found through vaccinefinder.org.

For two years you have waged a heroic battle. Through your efforts, VUMC has successfully cared for tens of thousands of COVID patients in every possible way. And you have been an incredible force in the community to help educate and inform. In the life of our Medical Center, community and nation, we have often been reminded that nature is an awesome force, and that all life is fragile. With the continued pandemic, the most recent tornadoes, and every other daily charge our teams hold, this reminder is constant.

We are all tired and would like for this pandemic to be over. But adversaries don’t go away because we are tired or discouraged. And that includes this virus. Our only response is to continue to step up and meet the challenges that lay ahead of us. We are the heirs of many predecessors throughout VUMC’s history who have lived through terrible challenges — wars, tornadoes and even a pandemic a century ago. Every time, the people of VUMC have stood with courage and overcame. This pandemic has created our time to step up and withstand. There will be more difficulties ahead just like there have been in the past. We all need to expect that.

In addition to receiving your booster, I want to ask for your continued courage, your continued collegiality and teamwork and your continued strong, affable leadership. I see courage and determination in the faces of the people across our health system who are contributing the best of themselves every day. I hear courage woven throughout the many heart-felt stories of personal sacrifice, inexhaustible resourcefulness and loyalty to patients and co-workers. Everywhere I visit — our hospital units, clinics, assessment sites, you name it — the resolve of our united VUMC spirit is palpable. We have the mental and moral strength — the courage — to persevere and withstand this difficulty. As for teamwork, the many trials we have faced over the past two years have also reminded us that we are often stronger than we know — with the support of one another.

There is no place I would want my own family, friends and neighbors to receive care than here. I believe so strongly in the people of VUMC. Let us brace ourselves to our duties. We will face challenges in the days to come. We will meet them head on. We will keep moving forward. Please take a moment over these holidays to reflect on the importance your contributions to this team and feel the pride in being appreciated by our patients, your colleagues and your community.

Sincerely,

Wright Pinson, MBA, MD

Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Chief Health System Officer

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