EDITOR:

Each day in Georgia, physicians, nurses and other health care providers go to work in our hospitals, nursing centers or private office practices to care for patients with a variety of health needs.

This practice of medicine occurs 24 hours per day, seven days per week and 365 days per year, because illnesses and injuries don’t take a holiday. Without thinking twice, patients visit emergency departments and provider practices to seek care, and that need is met by the dedicated individuals who serve our communities as front-line heroes to ensure your health and safety.

During this global pandemic of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), these health care providers, hospitals and nursing centers are still open and providing the same compassionate care as always, but this public health emergency is different. This new virus has spread rapidly across the world, and the general public and health care workers are placed in harm’s way each time a person chooses to attend large gatherings, visit elderly family members or widen their circle of personal interaction with friends, family and neighbors. These practices lead to increased exposure and viral spread, which places an additional burden on our increasingly strained health care system.

It is up to Georgia’s citizens to accept personal responsibility and adhere to best practices during this outbreak such as staying home, avoiding large groups and limiting interactions with friends and family to those that do not involve close personal contact. As our hospitals and providers fight to maintain control over COVID-19, increased patient volumes and added exposure to health care staff will threaten the foundation of our health care system. We must all make the personal choice to protect our nurses, physicians, hospitals, and nursing centers by taking steps to ensure that the next COVID-19 patient isn’t one of us.

Health care providers are bravely assuming great personal risk each day as they care for the sick. Hospitals are making room and accommodating growing numbers of patients as they continue to maintain a safe haven for the public. Georgia’s citizens can do their part by following the advice of Gov. (Brian) Kemp and Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. (Kathleen) Toomey including avoiding large crowds and staying at home whenever possible. Personal responsibility also includes holding your friends, family and neighbors accountable to these same standards as we all fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 together.

Help protect your health care professionals, hospitals and nursing centers by making the personal choice to socially distance in order to reduce or eliminate potential exposure to COVID-19 for yourself and those you are closest to. The health care community thanks you for being personally responsible and doing your part to end this COVID-19 Public Health Emergency; these choices, whatever they may be, will have a far-reaching effect. Let’s all work together to protect Georgia’s health care providers and hospitals while they protect us.

Georgia Hospital Association, Medical Association of Georgia, Georgia Nurses Association, Georgia Health Care Association, Georgia Academy of Family Physicians, Georgia Primary Care Association, Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

These organizations collectively represent more than 161 hospitals, 360 skilled nursing facilities, 8,000 physicians, 3,400 nurses, 2,800 family physicians, 400 medical students, 34 Federally Qualified Health Centers with 229 clinic sites and 1,800 pediatricians.

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