South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday January 19, 2021
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January 2021 - Volume 17 - Issue 7
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Florida: Let’s Roll Up Our Sleeves and Get Back to Work - Op-Ed

By: Pat Geraghty, President & CEO, GuideWell/Florida Blue
 
The public health and economic challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic continue to test our state’s resilience.
 
Over the next several months, it remains critical that we continue to mask up, social distance and observe the protocols that can keep one another safe and slow the spread of the virus.  
 
New COVID-19 cases in Florida rose 26% to more than 90,000 cases last week with 13.1% of test results coming back positive, up from 9.1% the week before.  A more contagious variant of COVID-19 also was detected for the first time in Florida last week. Even with businesses reopening, an estimated 651,000 Floridians—6.4% of our workforce—remained unemployed as of November. And, Florida’s economy is expected to contract by 2.4% year-over-year in 2020, according to a November estimate by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting.
 
But there’s reason for hope, as we slowly roll out effective COVID-19 vaccines. It’s clear that vaccinating as large a portion of our population as possible will eventually end the pandemic and is the surest path to our state’s economic recovery. It’s especially important that Florida’s business community take the lead and assist our elected officials and public health community in this important endeavor.  
 
Yes, in the truest sense, now is the time for all of us to roll up our sleeves. 
 
The good news is that through every stage of this crisis, the overwhelming majority of Floridians have responded with courage, compassion and a deep sense of community. As we finally see light at the end of the tunnel, we need to stay true to these commitments.
 
It will take effort and example to persuade some of our citizens to say yes to vaccines. The most recent survey of Americans indicates that 27% of U.S. adults say they probably or definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine, which means execution of a vaccination plan that needs 80% of the population vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity will take education and commitment. 
 
Over the coming weeks and months here in Florida, people will be looking to employers and health care providers to not only make vaccinations conveniently available, but also to encourage participation by communicating honestly and building trust in the safety and efficacy of the treatments. Given the urgency and promise of this initiative, large and small businesses may choose to require their employees to be vaccinated or offer creative incentives and rewards to encourage vaccination. 
 
Hopefully, when offered the opportunity to become vaccinated, informed Floridians will be further motivated to say yes by the courage they’ve witnessed every day from our frontline health providers and essential services providers who have been leaving the safety of their homes every day for the greater good. 
 
Compassion will also play a key role in our success, especially when it comes to prioritizing vaccine distribution. People across our state have displayed touching compassion over the last 10 trying months as loved ones fought for their lives, senior homes were closed to visitation, and thousands of our citizens were taken from us. 
 
While Florida initially focuses on providing the vaccine to our large senior population and health care workers with direct contact with patients, we must ensure that future phases of distribution live up to our sense of community. 
 
While we’re all in this together, it’s clear that communities of color have suffered disproportionately. The mortality rate among Black and Latino people infected with COVID-19 is 40% higher than the rate in white populations. Our Black and Latino citizens make up a large share of workers in essential roles and are far less likely than other populations to have the flexibility to work from home. They are the backbone of our health care workforce, but have less access to timely, affordable health care. 
 
These systemic inequities cry out for long-overdue attention.  We must focus special efforts in underserved communities and among essential workers in our vaccine rollout.
 
While we await broad availability of the vaccine in our state, it is imperative that we continue to be vigilant in wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds and confined spaces and washing our hands. These basic tasks are essential to managing the spread of coronavirus while vaccine distribution ramps up over the coming months. 
 
Underscoring the importance of getting our own house in order, it’s not an exaggeration to say the nation is watching to see what we make of this precious opportunity. Before COVID-19, 131 million visitors came to Florida each year, spending more than $94 billion annually on lodging, dining, entertainment, shopping and transportation. They will only return if they feel safe visiting our world-class attractions. 
 
A smooth vaccine rollout, facilitated by our state’s business community, will go a long way toward winning back this lifeblood of our economy. The time to roll up our sleeves is now!
 
 
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GuideWell & Florida Blue President & CEO Pat Geraghty penned this piece on behalf a coalition of 157 Florida business, health care and non-profit leaders that include:
 
Pat Geraghty, President & CEO, GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation & Florida Blue
Ronald Albert Jr., Partner, Harper Meyer Perez Hagen Albert Dribin & DeLuca LLP
Maria C. Alonso, President & CEO, United Way of Miami-Dade
Tony Argiz, Principal, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra
Mario J. Artecona, CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami
Brian E. Auld, President, Tampa Bay Rays
Dr. John Avendano, President, Florida State College at Jacksonville
Doug Baer, President & CEO, Brooks Rehabilitation
John D. Baker II, Chairman & CEO, FRP Holdings, Inc.
Anthony K. G. Barbar, President, Barbar & Associates, LLC
Christine Barney, CEO, rbb Communications
Rodney Barreto, Chairman & CEO, Barreto Group, Inc.
Jason Barrett, President & CEO, Flagler Health+
Dr. Wael K. Barsoum, President & Chief Transformation Officer, Health Outcomes Performance Company
Richard A. Beard, President, R.A. Beard Co.
Brian E. Best, President & CEO, GTE Financial
Hon. Elaine Bloom, President & CEO, Plaza Health Network
Kristen E. Blum, Former Senior Vice President & CIO, Latin America, PepsiCo, Inc.
Michelle Braun, President & CEO, United Way of Northeast Florida
Mark Brewer, President & CEO, Central Florida Foundation
Henry Brown, CEO, Miller Electric Company
Sylvia M. Burwell, President, American University
Walt Bussells, CEO, Forbes Street Capital
Brian Butler, President & CEO, Vistra Communications
Rogers Cain, President, Northeast Florida Medical Society Foundation
Daniel Cane, CEO, Modernizing Medicine
Kathleen Cannon, President & CEO, United Way of Broward County
Ravi S. Chari, MD, President & CEO, HCA Healthcare West Florida Division
Gary Chartrand, Philanthropist
Wendell Chindra, President, Clay County Chamber of Commerce
Robert M. Clements, Chairman & CEO, Covius Holdings, Inc.
Bob Clifford, Vice President, WSP USA
Bruce Jay Colan, Attorney
C.L. Conroy, APR, CEO Founder, The Conroy Martinez Group
Christopher Corr, President, Raydient Places & Properties, Rayonier
Tim Cost, President, Jacksonville University
John D. Couris, President & CEO, Tampa General Hospital
Thomas B. Crowley Jr., Chairman & CEO, Crowley Maritime Corporation
Steven C. Currall, Ph.D., President, University of South Florida
Daniel Davis, President & CEO, JAX Chamber
Albert E. Dotson Jr., Managing Partner, Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP
G. Ray Driver Jr., Founding Partner, Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow, PLLC
Juan D. Estrada, MD, CEO, Guidewell Sanitas I, LLC
Charles E. Fagan III, President & CEO, PSCU
A. Zachary Faison Jr., J.D., President, Edward Waters College
Mark Faulkner, President & CEO, Baptist Health Care
Aurelio M. Fernandez III, FACHE, President & CEO, Memorial Healthcare System
Michael A. Finney, President & CEO, Miami-Dade Beacon Council
Nathaniel Ford, CEO, Jacksonville Transportation Authority
Jeffrey P. Freimark, President & CEO, Miami Jewish Health
Deborah C. German, MD, Vice President for Health Affairs University of Central Florida and Dean, College of Medicine
Tim Giuliani, President & CEO, Orlando Economic Partnership
Rick Goings, Chairman Emeritus, Tupperware Brands
Danette Gossett, President, Gossett Marketing
Raymond E. Graziotto, President & COO, Seven Kings Holdings, Inc.
Steve Griggs, CEO, Tampa Bay Lightning
Dr. Leon Haley Jr., CEO, UF Health Jacksonville and Dean, UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville
Steven T. Halverson, Retired Chairman & CEO, The Haskell Company
George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D., President & CEO, Nova Southeastern University
M.C. (Ceree) Harden, CEO, Harden
Debbie Harvey, President & COO, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Inc.
Jeff Hayward, President & CEO, Heart of Florida United Way
Roy Hellwege, Chairman & CEO, Pilot Bank
Adolfo Henriques, Vice Chairman, The Related Group
Sara Barli Herald, Partner, Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP
John Hogan, President and CEO, Capital Health Plan
Rick Homans, President & CEO, Tampa Bay Partnership
Anthony Hucker, President & CEO, Southeastern Grocers
Richard Hume, CEO, Tech Data
Richard Hutchinson, CEO, Discovery Senior Living
Kevin E. Hyde, Managing Partner, Foley & Lardner, LLP
Pam Iorio, President & CEO Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Virginia A. Jacko, President & CEO, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired, Inc.
Leerie T. Jenkins Jr., Chairman, RS&H
Joseph G. Joyner, Ed.D., President, Flagler College
Kenneth Kahn, President, LRP Media Group
Wendy E. Kallergis, President & CEO, Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association
Jeanine Karp, Vice President & Partner, rbb Communications
Brian E. Keeley, President & CEO, Baptist Health South Florida
Scott P. Keith, President, North Florida Region, Truist
Sydney Kitson, Chairman & CEO, Kitson & Partners
Keith Koenig, CEO, City Furniture
Thomas G. Kuntz, Retired Chairman, President & CEO, SunTrust Bank of Florida
Mari Kuraishi, President, Jessie Ball duPont Fund
Mark Lamping, President, Jacksonville Jaguars
Matthew Whitman Lazenby, CEO, Whitman Family Development
Tracy Leinbach, Retired Exec. VP & CFO, Ryder System, Inc.
Senator George LeMieux, Chairman of the Board, Gunster
Paul Leone, CEO, The Breakers Palm Beach
Dan Lindblade, CAE, President & CEO, Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Charles J. Lockwood, Dean, Morsani College of Medicine, Sr. VP USF Health, University of South Florida
Kim A. Lopdrup, CEO, Red Lobster Seafood Co.
Sareet Majumdar, President & CEO, ICTC Global Manufacturing Solutions
Eric K. Mann, President & CEO, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast
Steven E. Marcus, President & CEO, Health Foundation of South Florida
Alex Martins, CEO, Orlando Magic
Brett McClung, President & CEO, Baptist Health
Gepsie M. Metellus, Executive Director, Sant La, Haitian Neighborhood Center, Inc.
Miami Marlins Organization
Carlos A. Migoya, President & CEO, Jackson Health System
David Miller, Executive Chairman, Brightway Insurance
Elizabeth M. Miller, President & CEO, Sunshine Health
Jeanne M. Miller, Esq., President & CEO, Jacksonville Civic Council, Inc.
Harold F. Mills, Former Chairman & CEO, ZeroChaos
Harold W. Mullis, President Emeritus,Trenam Law
Michael Munz, President, The Dalton Agency
Jessica Muroff, CEO, United Way Suncoast
Dr. David R. Nelson, Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, President, UF Health University of Florida
Rusty Newton, Chairman, Timucuan Asset Management
Gary Norcross, Chairman, President & CEO, FIS 
Jim O’Connell, President, Vinik Family Office
James O’Leary, President & CEO, Haskell
Donna Orender, CEO, Orender Unlimited
Peter Paige, MD, Chief Physician Executive, Chief Clinical Officer, Jackson Health System
Lisa Palmer, President & CEO, Regency Centers
Lou Plasencia, CEO, The Plasencia Group
Cary Putrino, Regional President, Fifth Third Bank, North Florida
John Quelch, Dean, School of Business, University of Miami
John B. Ramil, Retired President & CEO, TECO Energy, Inc./Chair of the Board, GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation & Florida Blue
Olga M. Ramudo, President & CEO, Express Travel
Steven Raney, Chairman & CEO, Raymond James Bank
Paul Reilly, Chairman & CEO, Raymond James Financial
Amy F. Rettig, SVP Community Engagements, Nielsen
Frank A. Rodriguez, Founder & Chairman, Miramar Group LLC
Peter S. Rummell
Mike Santarone, CEO, Stellar
Maria Sastre, Former President & COO, Signature Flight Support
Frank P. Scruggs Jr., Partner, Berger Singerman
Yvette Segura, Regional Vice President, USAA
Mel Sembler, Chairman Emeritus, The Sembler Company
Kathleen Shanahan, CEO, Turtle & Hughes
Darryl Shaw, CEO, Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners
Kent Shoemaker, CEO, Lipman Family Farms
Stu Sjouwerman, President & CEO, KnowBe4 USA
Kelly Smallridge, President & CEO, Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, Inc.
Bobby Stein, President, The Regency Group
Cindy Stover, North Florida Market President, TD Bank
Jay C. Stowe, Managing Director & CEO, JEA
John Strong, M.D., Chairman & CEO, Bankers Financial Corporation
Bob Swindell, President & CEO, Greater Ft. Lauderdale Alliance
T.J. Szelistowski, President, TECO Peoples Gas
Dr. David M. Szymanski, President, University of North Florida 
Bradley S. Talbert, FACHE, President & CEO, Memorial Hospital Jacksonville
Troy D. Taylor, Chairman & CEO, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, LLC
Rasesh Thakkar, Senior Managing Director, Tavistock Group
Russ Thomas, CEO, Availity
Patricia H. Thompson, Arbitrator and Mediator, JAMS
Vanessa Tinsley, Executive Director, Bridge to Hope
Daryl Tol, President & CEO, AdventHealth/Central Florida Division
Nancy Tower, President & CEO, Tampa Electric
Tom VanOsdol, President & CEO, Ascension St. Vincent’s and Ascension Florida and Gulf Coast
Jeff Vinik, Owner, Tampa Bay Lightning
Nathan H. Walcker, CEO, Florida Cancer Specialists
Will Weatherford, Managing Partner, Weatherford Capital
Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski, Archbishop of Miami
Eric Woolworth, President, Business Operations, The Miami Heat
Barry Wright, MD, President, Northeast Florida Medical Society
 
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