Lee Health doctor reflects on lessons learned 2 years after Lee County’s first COVID-19 case

Lee Health doctor reflects on lessons learned 2 years after Lee County’s first COVID-19 case


Sunday marked two years since the first confirmed COVID-19 case and death in Lee County. The coronavirus outbreak sent the country into a pandemic that changed day-to-day life.

Lee health is now looking back on what they have learned and the challenges they are still facing. Like everyone else, the hospital system initially didn’t know what to do. There was no vaccine and no guidelines, so they did what they knew best, taking care of patients.

That meant providing oxygen and ventilator support, steroids, nutritional support and helping people’s bodies recover.

Doctor Sunil Pammi with Lee Health said they went through challenges along the way, shortages of protective gear, keeping up with things changing, and he said he learned a lot personally.

“I learned a lot about resilience, you know, patient resilience, knowing that they have the disease and wanting to fight and giving us everything they could to survive. We asked them to do everything that they could breathe deeply, you know, stay calm, you know, comply with the medications and the treatment, and sometimes they didn’t agree with our treatment, but they complied with it to get healthy and get better,” said Pammi.

The total number of COVID-19 deaths in Lee County is more than 2,000, and there were close to 28,000 thousand patients who came through the Lee Health system.

Pammi said those numbers are now lower thanks to prevention measures like the vaccine and treatments, but it took time before those methods came out.

“There are certain treatments that can be used to prevent you from getting hospitalized, like continuing to use monoclonal antibody therapies that we have. So initially, we’re using convalescent plasma. But now, we use monoclonal antibody therapy, which we can infuse in our complex care centers. And sometimes in the emergency department, where if you are having symptoms, and we also have availability, that some of the new antiviral medication,” said Pammi.

While Lee County has come a long way, Doctor Pammi said their biggest struggle right now is making sure the community doesn’t let their guard down and continues taking the necessary precautions against COVID-19.

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