The annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast for the Augusta area took place on Tuesday, and Dr. Phillip Coule, vice president and chief medical officer of Augusta University Health System, received this year’s award for Community Partner Hero at the virtual ceremony. The award was presented for the work of AU Health as a whole during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the ceremony, Coule noted that the team at AU Health began monitoring the situation with COVID-19 back in December.
“As the situation continued to develop in January, we started to pull together our first task force in February,” he said. “It became apparent that this could become a pandemic.”
At that point, the response team, facilities staff and others began looking into what would be necessary for the hospital to do in preparation for a pandemic. This allowed them to be a step ahead.
“We were enacting plans when we needed to, but we were already planning for the next phases,” Coule said.
After a pandemic was officially declared, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order asking AU Health to assist the Georgia Department of Health and National Guard in testing for the virus.
“In a period of about a week, we stood up 11 testing sites across the state of Georgia,” Coule explained. “And we were able to provide testing to a significant number of Georgians that wouldn’t have had it otherwise.”
Coule, a Red Cross volunteer in his youth, emphasized that he is a “cheerleader” for the work of the staff at AU Health.
“I could go on for days listing the people, that if any one component of this had failed, that we would not have had the success that we had and been able to provide that level of service to the community.”