Published on April 01, 2020

Meet the team who is leading SeHealth’s fight against COVID-19

Pictured, from left, are Edwards, Okoye and Perry.

Southeastern Health has been making preparations for COVID-19 for weeks—planning, conducting drills, reviewing procedures, implementing new processes, acquiring PPE and other related supplies, and countless other tasks.

At the forefront of these efforts are SeHealth’s Infection Control Team: Infection Control Medical Director and Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Obiefuna Okoye, Infection Control Coordinator Sherry Edwards and Quality Management Practitioner Performance Specialist Bud Perry.

While these professionals work with infectious diseases on a daily basis, their importance came to the forefront when COVID-19 became a threat.

As they are the experts for the organization, they began reviewing procedures that were already in place to determine what, if anything, needed to be changed to address the type of threat that COVID-19 presented to the entire organization—the employees, providers, and how care was administered in the hospital as well as the outlying clinics and affiliates.

And when someone in the organization had a question or needed guidance, this team fielded and continues to field the calls, around the clock.

“Healthcare doesn’t stop or take breaks,” said Edwards. “My and Dr. Okoye’s phones have not stopped ringing. Coronavirus has challenged us in ways we never imagined but we have some of the strongest nurses, providers and support staff, probably in the world, and it has been our honor to guide them in this fight.”

In addition to knowledge, the infection control team has provided additional training, written new procedures, consulted with providers and nurses if processes needed to be reviewed, managed testing criteria and data, and served as advisors for the health system’s command center.

“Our Infection Control Team has worked non-stop to make sure that we are all working toward the same goal with standard processes and procedures in place so that our staff are confident when providing care to any patient that could have COVID-19,”said SeHealth COVID-19 Incident Commander Jason Cox, who is SeHealth’s Vice President and Southeastern Regional Medical Center Chief Operating Officer.

Cox added that through the Infection Control Team’s leadership, employees who are considered on the frontlines, like nurses in the clinics or emergency room or at the bedside of a person under investigation in an isolation room, are properly equipped with personal protective equipment and evidence-based procedures to ensure that everyone is providing care in a manner that is safe and appropriate to fight COVID-19.

“We are hearing a lot about heroes in healthcare,” added Cox. “These professionals are an example of heroes who have stepped up when called upon to be the leaders in a fight that no one could have fully imagined. Our entire organization is filled with these types of individuals who put themselves and their families second in order to provide exceptional care for our community, even in the face of unprecedented and unpredictable circumstances of today.”