pic hospital initiative masks

The four major hospital systems in Horry and Georgetown counties announced Friday they are coming together in a joint initiative to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

"It's going to be a very robust public awareness campaign that will include TV commercials, billboards, and an open letter sent out in various mediums that is going to urge community and those visiting to do their part, wash hands, social distance, and wear mask," said CEO of Grand Strand Health, Mark Sims.

Conway Medical Center, Grand Strand Health, McLeod Health, and Tidelands Health say they are "standing together" in this initiative. 

"We're excited about this campaign," Sims said. "It's going to stress the importance of each of us - anyone that lives in our region or who is visiting, to really follow precautions."

Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of Medical Affairs with Tidelands Health, said his health system is close to being overwhelmed right now.

"We're in a serious pandemic and it's not a hoax," Harmon said. "We risk not being able to deliver needed healthcare to our patients."

Harmon noted that back in mid-June, his hospital system had between one and three COVID-19 patients. Today, there are 52, with nine more awaiting results. 

"We also have nine patients in the emergency room that should be in ICU {the Intensive Care Unit], but the ICU is overwhelmed," Harmon said. 

In their open letter to the public, the group pleaded with the community to do their part to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

"Please, for the health and safety of our region, wear a mask. Avoid large gatherings, observe social distancing, and wash your hands. These simple steps, when taken by all of us, will slow the spread of COVID-19," the letter said. "It’s critically important that we take action now. Our hospitals are at or near capacity. Our emergency departments and critical care units are full as we care for a surge of COVID-19 patients."

Conway Medical Center CEO Bret Barr said he was pleased to see the hospital systems working together.  

"Today is a tremendous opportunity for us that serve the many communities along the Grand Strand to come together and stress the importance of getting this pandemic under control," Barr said. 

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