Lafayette, LA- Healthcare leaders and community stakeholders from South Louisiana gathered both live and virtually on Thursday to create community conversations on COVID at the South Louisiana Community Health Summit. The global pandemic has significantly affected many parishes across South Louisiana over the past seven months. To date, the Acadiana area has over 25,000 confirmed cases with 667 confirmed deaths according to the Louisiana Department of Health COVID dashboard. “Our goal for this year’s Summit was to have an serious and honest community conversation about COVID,” said Dr. Holly Howat, Executive Director of Beacon Community Connections, “Better together was the chosen as the theme to really zero in on the fact that we are all fighting this pandemic together.”
The Summit, hosted by Beacon Community Connections, was an opportunity to pause and reflect and highlight healthcare’s continued efforts to combat the deadly COVID19 virus. “The timing of the Summit could not have been better. Beacon Community Connections gathered the top leaders in our healthcare system who shared their collective wisdom and experience on what is occurring on the front line.” said Jan Swift, host of the Summit.
To begin the day, Dr Amanda Logue, Dr. Chuck Burnell, and Dr. Henry Kaufman spoke about the challenges healthcare organizations continue to face as they work to quickly learn and implement new knowledge and practice around COVID. All of them agreed that communication was essential to fighting the pandemic. “Whatever we are going to do to save our community, we have to be united.” Said Dr. Amanda Logue, Chief Medical Officer for Lafayette General Health.
State Senator Fred Mills and Dr. Tina Stefanski had a plain-spoken conversation about how state and federal policies are implemented on a local level. Senator Mills spoke about the upcoming special legislative session and how we must balance economic with healthcare. Dr Stefanski praised our community saying, “People in this community have remained faithful to masks and being careful in public. We see the benefits of these actions.”
Dr. Sandra Brown, Dr. Ryan Bosch, and Dr. Iris Malone spoke passionately about the health inequities that are highlighted by this pandemic such as 46.3% of COVID deaths are among Blacks who only make up 32.4% of the populations. Dr. Iris Malone gave the Summit a frontline provider’s view of the COVID pandemic and highlighted the need for communication and trust between providers and patients.
Mr. Cian Robinson closed the Summit with a discussion on future trends in healthcare as a direct result of COVID. “While we may be in the midst of a pandemic, the future of healthcare has never looked so bright.” said Mr. Robinson, Executive Director of Innovation, Research and Real Estate for Lafayette General Health.
Many participants expressed gratitude for conferences like these. Mr. Brandon Williams, a licensed professional counselor and virtual attendee said "I believe attending a conference like this is essential to not only my professional growth, but to our community prosperity. The more I know, the better I can serve." Ms. Anne Pyle, CEO of ADP Solutions and in-person attendee said, “The summit clarified what I knew about COVID in a number of ways. As a member of the public, it was good to hear from the three Chief Medical Officers how things really evolved during the peaks and valleys of the crisis for their organizations and how they were constantly trying to correct misconceptions from the media and social media.”
At the close of the event, Dr. Howat said, “I am glad we were able to host these community conversations to highlight the hard work of our healthcare system as well as areas that need continued work. I hope you go and continue to have these conversations.”