OP-ED: Leading by example for our community: It’s what neighbors do

Thomas R. McGann
WellSpan Health

In a crisis, leadership matters — thoughtful, deliberative and collaborative leadership. A steady hand at the wheel during times of turbulence.

At WellSpan, that’s been our goal throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — to be a trusted leader for our patients, our team members and our community. And, as we move to a “new normal” — managing the care needs of our friends and neighbors with COVID-19 as well as those who have other care needs — we remain your trusted health care resource.

Dr. Thomas McGann

Because that’s what WellSpan is — a team of 20,000 central Pennsylvanians, including some 1,600 physicians and advanced practice providers — all committed to WellSpan’s charitable community mission to provide exceptional care for all and to improve the health of our community.

If there were any doubts about WellSpan’s mission-driven commitment, look no further than those men and women serving on the front lines of this pandemic.

That commitment can be seen in WellSpan’s health care heroes, such as Mandy Lewis, a 20-year nursing veteran who cares for COVID-19 patients in the WellSpan York Hospital cardiac Intensive Care Unit; or Dr. Grant Sorkin, a WellSpan neurosurgeon and surgical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at WellSpan York Hospital, who continues to perform complex surgeries during the pandemic and urges the public not to delay care for symptoms of stroke, heart attack or other potential emergency.

If you want to hear about the dedication and compassion of WellSpan Health and its care team members, just ask our patients. Douglas Doty, of Boiling Springs, credited his physicians, nurses and care team members at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital for helping him recover from COVID-19 after a two-week hospital stay that included 10 days on a ventilator. "If I could say one thing to the people who took care of me, I’ll always be grateful, and thank them,” Mr. Doty said. “No words could ever repay them."

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For Mr. Doty and the hundreds of other COVID-19 patients we’ve treated in our hospitals, WellSpan was their trusted partner during a personal health care crisis. We’ve also been a trusted partner to our community during this pandemic, providing reliable, timely and transparent information to the public so that we are all doing our part to slow the spread of this disease. These efforts include significant ongoing outreach and collaboration with our partner community organizations, local governments, county commissioners, state and federal agencies, and the business community, among other partners.

We’ve also received an outpouring of support and donations from our community in helping to supply us with masks, handmade cloth face coverings, sanitizer and other materials. We are so grateful to our friends and neighbors for their continued support.

And that’s who we are — neighbors. At WellSpan, we lead through collaboration with our community partners. And we lead by example.

Here are just some of the ways WellSpan has led in our response to the pandemic:

  • We were among the first health systems in the country to commit to waiving all out-of-pocket costs for testing and treatment of COVID-19.
  • We were the first in our region to establish a network of COVID-19 testing sites and have now completed more than 25,000 tests for COVID-19 across southcentral Pennsylvania, with more than 2,500 resulting as positive for the disease.
  • We were the first to develop a network of care locations to exclusively treat the non-emergency needs of COVID-19 patients.
  • We established behavioral health resources, online and via toll-free hotline, to help community members manage their stress, anxiety and other mental health needs.
  • We established a toll-free Coronavirus Information Hotline to answer community questions.
  • We launched a webpage at, which includes up-to-date data and useful information for patients, medical providers, businesses and community members.
  • We’ve led and participated in public service announcement campaigns to encourage social distancing and other preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • We’ve made getting care easier through new virtual care options — including WellSpan Online Urgent Care, as well as remote monitoring and video, phone and e-visits.

And yes, we are prepared for what may come. We stand ready to more than double our operational capacity, should we see a significant rise in COVID-19 patients in our community. As a large, integrated health system with eight hospitals and more than 200 care locations, we can redeploy resources to where they are needed most – flexing our operational capacity as-needed based on the changing dynamics of this pandemic.

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Through it all, the health and safety of our patients, physicians and team members has been our top priority. And it continues to be our guide as we resume services that our patients need to ensure their safe, timely and appropriate care. That’s why, guided by our infection prevention and control experts, we’ve added new policies and enhanced safety protocols to protect both our patients and their care teams during the pandemic.

Remember that your health is important. Don’t delay getting the care you need. If you have concerns, talk to your physician or care team about the ways in which they’re working to keep you both healthy and safe.

At WellSpan, we are your trusted partner in your health. Let us be partners in this pandemic.

Let’s lead by example for our friends and neighbors and all continue to work together — as one united community — to slow the spread of COVID-19.

— Thomas R. McGann, M.D., is executive vice president for clinical practice at WellSpan Health.