MUSC Presidential Update - January 4, 2021

Dear MUSC family,

I am certain that we are all ready to put 2020 behind us – it was a year that involved an incredible amount of work, tenacity, loss, resilience and sacrifice from our team and the larger community. I’m looking forward to a very positive 2021, starting with the fact that we’ve reached a major inflection point in our pandemic journey as COVID-19 vaccines make their way into the population locally and nationally.

Across the MUSC Health system, we have pushed hard to complete our organizational Phase 1a vaccination distribution plan, as part of the vaccine allocation guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Care Team Members Vaccinated as of 1/4
Charleston 63%
Lancaster 44%
Florence 42%

At MUSC, Phase 1a and its three waves included health care providers who directly touch or work within 6 feet of patients or individuals whose roles are critical to the function or operations of patient care delivery. This past weekend, we officially opened up vaccine administration to individuals outside the organization who qualify for Phase 1a, which includes select frontline health care providers and first responders in the larger community. This phase will likely last one to two months.

For more information about the vaccination roll-out schedule, please keep an eye out for official MUSC Health and organizational emails or visit the vaccination website. In accordance with state and federal allocation guidelines, we are distributing the Pfizer vaccine exclusively at this time, since our system has access to and capacity with sub-zero freezers for necessary storage. In general, hospitals or facilities without this type of storage are administering the Moderna vaccine.

MUSC receives weekly shipments of the vaccine, so as you can imagine, the coordination of registration, scheduling and distribution is a complex process that requires incredible diligence so that not one single dose of the vaccine is wasted.

Despite this enormous step forward in recent weeks, the unfortunate reality is that across the nation and in many parts of South Carolina, the virus is surging. If current projections hold true, some very difficult days and weeks are still ahead of us. We are seeing increases in hospitalizations across all of our MUSC Health facilities, and, no doubt, you are aware of the serious situation faced by our fellow citizens in the Upstate. I remain confident in our teams and the daily monitoring and planning that continues as more patients seek our care – for COVID-19 or otherwise.

I encourage you to continue monitoring our MUSC COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project for weekly updates related to infection rates, hospitalizations and other important information connected to our organization. You may also find it helpful to monitor the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control website as well.

It is important to understand that now more than ever, we must stay the course.

Please, continue to make safe and smart decisions for yourselves, your families and loved ones. Get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. Continue to get tested and encourage others to do the same. Keep wearing your masks, wash your hands frequently, social distance and work together to protect those at greatest risk.

We have the tools to beat this virus and minimize unnecessary suffering; we just need to keep using them – for as long as it takes.

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