MUSC Presidential Update - May 27, 2021

Dear MUSC family,

As we enter the holiday weekend, I hope that you and your loved ones will take a few moments to join me in honoring the great sacrifice and service of our U.S. armed forces as we recognize Memorial Day on Monday. I encourage us all to think more intentionally in the coming days about how we as individuals can support those who endure in the wake of their loved ones’ ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms enjoyed today. 21

COVID-19 update

“When the darkness comes, keep an eye on the light – whatever that is for you –no matter how far away it seems.”
— Jan Berry, American singer and songwriter

I can’t tell you how much pleasure it gives me to write these words: The “light” isn’t far away anymore. In fact, that light at the end of the tunnel, the last couple of miles of this marathon called the COVID-19 pandemic, is right in front of us. With anyone age 12 and up now able to receive a safe and effective vaccine to protect against the worst that this virus has to offer, we are approaching a true “return to normal.” And while we are all aware that vaccine hesitancy and convenient access continue to be challenges, we also continue to see various communities rallying toward the finish line.

Since Pfizer announced its vaccine was also safe and effective for kids – first for those 16 and older and now for those 12 and up – MUSC has already vaccinated almost 6,000 children in the Charleston area, in large part due to our partnership with the Charleston County School District. That is a huge win! In addition, our teams are working harder than ever to reach underserved and rural communities throughout the state by bringing the vaccine to them. MUSC is also working to reach large groups of people who might be willing to get the vaccine when it’s “on the way” to something they are already planning to do, such as our partnership with Spoleto Festival USA, to offer vaccine clinics throughout this year’s return of that annual and much-loved event.

And, as indicated by the MUSC Epidemiology Intelligence Project’s most recent update, infection rates continue to trend in a positive, downward direction across South Carolina and the nation. The COVID vaccines are safe and highly effective in protecting against infection and transmission of COVID to others. Remember, those populations who remain unvaccinated are at greatest risk for severe illness from the virus. Every individual vaccinated brings us one step closer to being able to put the pandemic fully behind us. If you have still not received your COVID-19 vaccine and do not have a medical or religious reason for not doing so, I strongly encourage you to do your part to protect the most vulnerable among us and get vaccinated as soon as you can.

There have been some recent changes to masking guidelines, social distancing expectations, travel and many other aspects of our daily MUSC lives in the last couple of weeks – if you’re not already, please stay up to date on what is expected of you and your teams by visiting our academic and clinical websites.

MUSC Health is taking a national and statewide leadership position amongst health systems to require COVID-19 vaccination for all MUHA leaders and employees. The safety of our patients, our care team members and our visitors must remain our top priority within the health system.

There’s a simple and important takeaway here: MUSC has consistently served our state and local communities throughout the past year and then some by emphasizing the need for safe and smart decisions and demonstrating through our institutional character how well we serve our state. Please accept my heartfelt thank you to all of the dedicated members of our MUSC family who have worked to make this statement a reality.

We must continue to innovate and lead by example. In my most recent blog post, I talk a little bit more about what makes up good character and why it still matters – not just during a pandemic but all the time. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it when you have a chance. As always, thank you for bringing your tenacity, perseverance, skill and commitment to all that you do for MUSC and our statewide communities.

Yours in service,
David J. Cole, M.D., FACS
MUSC President