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The right place for a crisis

County News, the website of the National Association of Counties, higlighted Henderson County's collaborative response to the coronavirus crisis. County News, the website of the National Association of Counties, higlighted Henderson County's collaborative response to the coronavirus crisis.

It seems like ages ago when physicians, hospital administrators, first responders and county administrators filled a training room at the Thomas H. Thompson Emergency Services Center to talk about the coronavirus.

 

At a time when President Trump was forecasting a “miracle” that would make a minor threat vanish into the air, the so-called Epi-team was dead serious about the potential for a widespread contagion.
“One of the things that makes Henderson County unique is the teamwork but it’s also the talent we have,” County Manager Steve Wyatt said in a sort of head coach’s pregame pep talk. “Another thing I know about Henderson County is we are at our best when things are worst.”
The county’s long-range planning, its quick stand-up of a broad crisis management system and its exemplary cooperation across institutional and jurisdictional lines have proved Wyatt prophetic over and over since the epidemiology team gathered five weeks ago.
It’s no accident that the National Association of Counties, reporting on how counties across the U.S. were responding to the pandemic, focused on Henderson County and the early cooperative effort to set up a coronavirus screening site at Blue Ridge Community College.
One can quibble with a few details here and there about the response and a few gaps. Test kits are rationed for the most critical need — symptomatic patients who are in the hospital or in care facilities and front-line doctors, nurses and other providers.
Carolina Village suffered a scare when a resident who was admitted to Pardee, discharged to the life-care center’s medical wing and readmitted to Pardee died of complications from Covid-19. But because of its early, sweeping lockdown — residents can leave the campus only for essential trips and no one can visit — Carolina Village was able to say — three days after the Covid-19 death — that no new cases had been confirmed on its campus.
At Pardee and Advent hospitals, the medical professionals are working in life-threatening conditions to care for patients while the administrators are watching the fever line of revenue plunge by half or more. It was startling but not all that surprising to see the reaction of Pardee’s leaders to the revenue drop in real time: They gave themselves a hefty pay cut. They put patients first.
“These actions are difficult, but they will ensure the long-term viability and readiness of our healthcare system to serve our community, and to continue to be an important employer in our region,” Pardee said.
While we pine for the time B.C. — Before Covid — we can take comfort in our elected leaders’ transparency and decisive actions and in our county’s broad and effective emergency response strategies.
It seems ages ago, too, when Lightning reporter Gracie Milner interviewed Three-Chopt owner Matthew Rogers about surviving the lockdown.
“I would not want to be dealing with this anywhere,” he said, “other than the town of Hendersonville, N.C.”
We are in the trial of our lives, to be sure, and we don’t know just how long we must endure. But this much we’ve learned already. If we have to live through a life-altering crisis, we’ve some to the right place.