CEO of HCHS Interviews with NBC News Producer Regarding Harlan County’s Pandemic Success

Harlan County is a community unlike any other and on March 2 that was proven to be exactly right. Harlan County Health System’s CEO, Dr. Patrick Auman, was interviewed by Senior National Coordinating Producer, Al Henkel, of NBC News on Harlan County’s triumph through the COVID pandemic. It’s now been a year since this crazy journey had started for much of the world. Despite all of the challenges that HCHS has faced, we have shown to be successful through it all and Mr. Henkel wanted to highlight those successes.
From the very beginning, “HCHS implemented the necessary requirements in order to keep our patients and staff safe,” stated CEO, Dr. Patrick Auman. “Daily team meetings were held, PPE was constantly worn, visitor restrictions were in place, and only essential staff were allowed into the facility for quite some time,” Auman mentioned as well. We believe these key implementations have led us to where we are today in Harlan County. Since last March, Harlan County has only seen 207 total positive cases, with the first case not arriving until June 24, 2020. Our community has been very compliant with the state and local health regulations and our public schools closed almost instantly for the remainder of the school year. Although our population increases throughout the summer due to many travelers to Harlan County Lake, our community seemed to remain very strong and healthy. There was a period of time this last fall where we saw a significant increase in positive cases each week, but that has seemed to dwindle rapidly since then. Harlan County has had no COVID related deaths throughout the entire pandemic and we owe our success to all of the residents of Harlan County and the HCHS staff for being very proactive in the beginning and understanding the importance of keeping our sparse community safe.
The staff of HCHS that were interested in receiving the vaccine, have now all gotten both doses. We are also conducting weekly vaccine clinics for Harlan County residents and our patients who are wanting the vaccine as well. This has been very successful so far, but we have much to go still. Currently our vaccine clinics are for those aged 65 years and older. We have given out nearly 800 vaccines thus far and we are so grateful to be able to provide these services for Harlan County and the surrounding areas. Auman indicated, “We will continue to do what we feel is necessary in the fight of this pandemic until we hear otherwise from the subject experts. By continuing to work together as a strong community, nothing will able to hold us back from beating this.”