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5Q with Sheri Holmes, ETSU Health's Chief Medical Officer

Jonathan Roberts • Mar 29, 2020 at 8:29 PM

As the chief medical officer of ETSU Health, Dr. Sheri Holmes is on the front lines in the battle to limit or stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Recently, the Johnson City Press spoke with Holmes via email to get her thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic, how she’s handling it, as well as an update on ETSU Health’s drive-thru testing center that opened on March 17.

Holmes briefly

Favorite movie: "As Good as It Gets"

Hobbies: Camping at the lake, swimming, paddle-boarding, kayaking

Favorite restaurant: Gourmet & Co.

Dogs or cats: “Dogs, but I have 2 rescue cats also.” 

Favorite show: “Waiting for ‘Ozark’ season 3 to start.” 

What has the last month been like for you as the coronavirus has spread, and how are you handling the constant change related to the virus?

The last month has been a whirlwind. Because this is a novel virus, this situation is uncharted territory. We have had to develop brand new protocols, then new information is discovered daily and we adjust protocols accordingly. The change is constant, but our team has been great — reacting to the new information and doing the necessary work because we know peoples' lives and well-being are at risk.

The mobile testing center has been open for just over a week now. How well are things going? 

Our drive-thru testing site has been open for over a week and processes have been running well. Our team developed the concept for the drive-thru site and brought it to fruition in about 72 hours. Our objective has been to test people quickly in a relatively low-risk venue to hopefully curb the spread of this disease. The development involved lab processes, supplies, equipment, nurses, volunteers, public safety — too many aspects to name here. Everyone involved has stepped up to the plate and given 100% effort.

How do you stay positive when everything seems so dark and worrisome?

While this situation has been exhausting, it has not been difficult to remain positive. It is inspiring to see people be so self-sacrificing and work toward a common goal. We have had multiple people and groups volunteer to assist — people willing to put themselves on the front lines for the welfare of the community.

Obviously, being a medical professional, you're a key cog in the local fight against COVID-19; how are you handling personal health concerns with obligations to help the community at large?

This project has afforded me an opportunity to work with and interact with people I may otherwise never have met, and I'm proud of the service ETSU Health is providing for this community.

What do you want people to know about the virus?

What I want people to know about this virus is most people who contract COVID-19 will be asymptomatic or minimally affected. However, there will be some who become very ill and may not survive. So, respect this virus — if not for yourself, for the people in your life.

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