“THANK YOU”: Edney, LaTorre express gratitude for Warren County’s essential workers
Published 4:00 am Saturday, March 26, 2022
With life returning to a more normal standard, it would seem only fitting to acknowledge and thank those who stood as pillars of the community in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two men who were at the forefront were Vicksburg physicians, Dr. Dan Edney and Dr. Carlos Latorre.
In the Vicksburg Post’s 2020 Best of the Best, both Edney and Latorre were recognized as the Men of the Year, an honor many said they earned — not only because they served on Gov. Tate Reeves’ COVID-19 task force.
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Edney and Latorre also gave weekly guidance to Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and to the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
However, while their guidance aided the community when it was most needed, there were others who were instrumental in helping with the fight.
Edney and Latorre spoke of the unsung heroes — many who served alongside them, state, and community leaders and to those in the shadows of service.
“Even during the worst of times, the hospital workers such as housekeeping, nurses aides, food services and maintenance, kept our hospitals operational,” Edney said. “Without their faithful efforts including the risk of COVID exposure in the ER and hospital setting, we would not have been able to care for the number we did.”
This was vital, Edney said, due to the number of COVID cases rising and the strain it put on the healthcare system as a whole in 2021.
Most Mississippians, he said, did not realize how dire the situation was and how close Mississippi came to not being able to care for everyone, which he said would have led to “treatment rationing.” But with the distribution of vaccines, early treatment and the actions of caring health care workers, he said, hospitals survived.
“We cannot overstate the importance of our healthcare workers in all segments from hospitals, clinics, home health agencies, to nursing homes and pharmacies being willing to do whatever was necessary to take care of our community,” Edney said. “Our nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals were critically important, especially those who stood their post and did not leave our community for more money and other personal benefits.”
Edney also stressed the sacrifices made even amid the danger.
“Please understand the high-risk nature and critical importance for nurses and nurses aides to care for the hygiene and bodily functions of patients who were highly contagious with active COVID and the workers who were cleaning these rooms and preparing for the next patient with COVID — all day, every day,” he said. “We owe all of these healthcare workers a debt of gratitude for their faithful service during very trying times.”
And then there were those outside the medical field who exhibited the strength of character, especially at the height of the pandemic. Essential workers in health care and beyond should be commended, Latorre said.
“So many people did such a great job and stepped up when needed the most,” Latorre said. “From people working in our grocery stores and gas stations to our sanitary workers.”
Latorre said he was also thankful for those who worked in the soup kitchens and who made masks. In addition, he acknowledged the constancy shown by teachers and faith leaders.
“The churches and our schoolteachers did a fantastic job during a challenging situation and with minimal resources,” he said. “I’m very appreciative that they continue to support and nurture so many’s spiritual and educational needs so that we could maintain some level of normalcy.”
Both doctors praised those who manned the vaccine drive-thru site at Uptown Vicksburg, formerly the Pemberton Mall.
“I heard so many comments regarding the volunteers working the vaccine drive-thru site. They were grateful to have access to the vaccine in our community,” Edney said. “I heard gratitude from patients for the clinic workers that were taking care of the long lines of cars full of people needing testing and treatment.”
Edney specifically named Warren County Emergency Management Coordinator John Elfer and his team with County Emergency Operations, Dr. Mark and Denise Stanley RN and Dale Clark RN for their leadership shown at the site.
“I want to thank all the volunteers who worked countless hours at COVID testing sites,” he said.
Edney also commended the state medical leadership, and the local and state governments as did Latorre.
“I am grateful to work with our city and county leaders, who sought and valued our medical advice and recommendations,” Latorre said. “The mayor’s office and Warren County Board of Supervisors showed outstanding leadership in challenging times and made difficult decisions to keep our citizens safe and our city and county moving forward,” he said.
Latorre also acknowledged the leadership of outgoing state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers and Edney, who served as chief medical officer for the state and those who work at the Mississippi State Department of Health, for guiding the state through “uncharted territory.”
“It (COVID) was overwhelming for the entire healthcare system locally and statewide,” Latorre said. “Also, the financial strain and psychological stress that the population was under were unprecedented. I think healthcare workers met the challenge by uniting and working together, remaining calm, and doing the best we could to take care of people until better treatments became available like the ones we have now,” he said.
Edney described the comradery at state and local levels as “amazing.”
“The partnership between the MSDH, city and county leadership, including county emergency operations, and private healthcare entities allowed for the success in our vaccination efforts and for providing access to COVID therapeutics. It’s always amazing to watch individuals rise to the challenge for the sake of our community,” Edney said. “I saw tears of fear and gratitude in the eyes of patients with COVID who were being treated with monoclonal therapy in the clinics and their expressions of hope and thanks for having access to medicine in our community.”