Published on April 18, 2020

SeHealth announces first patient death, first employee positive

COVID microscopic view

Officials with Southeastern Health are saddened to announce Southeastern Regional Medical Center’s first COVID-19-related death on Friday, April 17. The organization also received notice on Friday of its first employee who has tested positive for the virus.

“The health department announced the county’s first two deaths related to COVID-19 Friday evening,” said SeHealth COVID-19 Incident Commander Jason Cox. “One of those deaths occurred at our medical center. Our sincere condolences go out to the family of the patient. This is a very difficult time for our community as deaths begin to be reported and case numbers rise. We want to emphasize the importance of recommended CDC guidelines to reduce the spread and flatten the curve, including washing hands, staying home and social distancing.”

SeHealth has more than 2,400 employees and contract workers. The health system requires everyone throughout its system to wear a mask at all times.

“COVID-19 is in our community and our employees may be exposed outside our facility,” said SeHealth President/CEO Joann Anderson. “Information related to this employee seems to indicate that they may have been exposed outside the workplace, however, we are doing everything possible to keep our team members safe. Their safety as well as the safety of the people we serve remains our number one priority.”

Southeastern Health has a surge plan in place, which includes expansion of isolation patient room capacity for COVID-19 patients in the medical center as well as ventilator capacity.

In a memo to SeHealth employees on Friday, SeHealth President and CEO, Joann Anderson, reiterated that this will be a sustained effort.

“The reality is that COVID-19 is here to stay for quite some time,” wrote Anderson. “Until a vaccine is made available or when so many people in our community become immune to the virus that it stops the disease from spreading, COVID-19 will remain a steady presence

SeHealth’s website includes a COVID-19 resources page that features a dashboard that is updated weekdays by 11 a.m. with coronavirus-related statistics.