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A Year in Review: COVID-19

| Date Posted: 3/17/2021


The COVID-19 pandemic upended life for us all in 2020, but it also provided countless opportunities for people to work together to help others. This was true across the FirstHealth system as doctors and staff shifted priorities to respond to the needs of our communities. It was also true of how the communities we serve responded to us with their unwavering support. Sometimes it came in the form of a prayer. Other times it came from a donated mask or meal. FirstHealth is marking a year since the beginning of the pandemic in our area by looking back at some of the moments that we will all remember. Throughout an exceedingly difficult year, we are thankful that you allow us to care for you. 


March 18, 2020
A Hoke County resident becomes the first to test positive for COVID-19.


March 20, 2020
FirstHealth moved quickly to make COVID-19 tests available to anyone who needed one. Convenient Care clinics and Primary Care clinics became the "tip of the spear" in FirstHealth's efforts to fight the pandemic. 


March 30, 2020
Meal deliveries became a regular site at hospitals and clinics throughout the FirstHealth service area. Meals to Medical, a local group of volunteers who wanted to do anything it could to help, was among the first to provide meals to health care workers. Their efforts also helped support local businesses who were struggling amid COVID-19 lockdowns. 



April 2020
Many people across the Sandhills are staying put in their homes and doing their best to stay safe. They also continued to lift up our efforts to fight the pandemic by donating their time and precious personal protective equipment
Throughout April, May and June, FirstHealth received countless donations of masks, gloves and gowns. Local businesses and our county government partners donated what they could, with some businesses even changing their manufacturing efforts to put together face shields. 



April 8, 2020
Quiet moments of reflection became crucial for our frontline staff members. Following a prayer outside FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital, Jeffrey Pope, a facilities technician, took a few moments to care for some of his colleagues through music. 



April 14-17, 2020 
Local first responders continued to lift up those working to fight the pandemic by holding parades at our hospital campuses in Richmond, Hoke and Moore counties. 



April 18, 2020 
FirstHealth Fitness locations were forced to close early on in the pandemic, but it didn’t stop our staff from working out – and working on ways to help members stay healthy. Our Healthy at Home series allowed people to keep moving while they locked down.  


April 24, 2020
FirstHealth joins the convalescent plasma expanded access program at Mayo Clinic to provide plasma transfusion treatment for hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19.


May 12-14, 2020
The community continued to lift up our staff and their efforts two months into the pandemic. Grace Church in Southern Pines even visited for a worship service right outside Moore Regional Hospital. 



May 16, 2020
We all looked up for an incredible flyover by the Bandit Flight Team. 



June 19, 2020
The pandemic has taken too many from us, but there have been moments of celebration for those who fought COVID-19 and won. One of the most memorable came in mid-June when Shelia Watson left Moore Regional Hospital after spending three weeks on a ventilator. Shelia got quite the sendoff. 



October 13, 2020
FirstHealth made history when Moore Regional Hospital was the first site to enroll a patient into a clinical trial using a combination treatment regimen for COVID-19 consisting of the antiviral remdesivir and a highly concentrated solution of antibodies that neutralize SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.


Dec. 17, 2020
The first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine arrive at Moore Regional Hospital, marking the beginning of a new phase in our fight against the coronavirus. 



Dec. 18, 2020
FirstHealth delivers the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to those on the frontlines caring for COVID-19 patients. Lauren McDaniel, R.N., was one of the first to roll up her sleeve. After months of working directly with COVID-19 patients in Moore Regional’s intensive care unit, she said being vaccinated was both emotional and uplifting. 


“I was very excited. It’s been very hard on everyone the last few months, from the staff and doctors to patients and the hospital in general,” she said. “Working through this pandemic and being with COVID-19 patients is not easy, and it can be very dark some days. I don’t think the average person understands that. I think that made today even more important because it provides some good news for everyone who wants to see the pandemic end.”


Jan. 11, 2021
The first clinic of Operation FirstShot delivers COVID-19 vaccines to residents in Richmond County. Mary and Bernie Fulp, of Ellerbe, were among the first on Monday to receive their vaccines. Mary Fulp, 77, said she and her 90-year-old husband have been staying home and trying to stay safe since the beginning of the pandemic. 


Jan. 12, 2021
COVID-19 clinics begin in Moore County. Behind masks, there were plenty of smiles as Operation FirstShot launched at the Fair Barn in Pinehurst. Anne Holmes, of Pinehurst, was the first to receive her vaccine. “I was so excited about today. I’ve taken this pandemic so seriously, and my husband and I have really restricted what we’ve done for months. With the vaccine here, we are hoping things can begin to improve and allow people to see each other again,” she said.



Feb. 3, 2021
Nurse Michelle Sakala wears plenty of hats – she’s a wife and mother of two who is among the thousands of FirstHealth health care heroes. In February, Sakala added clinical trial participant to the list as she and her newest addition, Monroe, take part in a study to see if Sakala’s breastmilk has COVID-19 antibodies that may help protect her baby. Sakala, who has worked at FirstHealth for four years, signed up for the study right after she received the first of her two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.


Feb. 25, 2021
Local fireman John Wilson spent several weeks in intensive care at Moore Regional Hospital battling COVID-19. In late January, hospital staff and the community celebrated as John moved to our inpatient rehab unit.


We've come a long way, and while our fight continues, we're encouraged by the progress we continue to make to bring COVID-19 to an end. Feel free to leave a comment below for the many health care heroes who have shown an extraordinary commitment to care for people during this challenging year. 

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