Q&A with West Central Georgia DPH District Director Dr. Beverly Townsend
COLUMBUS Ga. (WRBL) – Dr Beverly Townsend, director of health for DPH West Central Georgia, is very busy these days with another peak in COVID-19 cases and the state of Georgia recently passed 20,000 deaths from COVID- 19.
She took time out of her busy schedule to keep us updated on the local fight against COVID-19.
WRBL: You are the first black woman to complete the family medicine residency program in what is now the Piedmont Columbus area and the first black director of the DPH West Central Health District, and you are now facing the first global pandemic in a few generations. How do you approach these seemingly overwhelming tasks?
Townsend: “I had no idea they were going to be insurmountable at first, so I started trying to do my job and do it well. They are still not insurmountable. They’re just tough and take a lot of hard work and a lot of support; staff who work for me and with whom I work. The challenges are there because of the unknowns that also exist. I take this very seriously, just because we don’t know something doesn’t mean we can’t do it. So we’re looking for new ways and new ideas, thinking outside the box to make things happen to get the result we need in the time that we may need, just to get the job done.
WRBL: What is your advice to people who have been vaccinated and cannot distance themselves socially because of their job or school?
Townsend: “Well my first piece of advice is that everyone should look at what’s already out there to help us get out of this pandemic and start doing the things that have been suggested and recommended – not suggested but recommended by the CDC via the public health guidelines. This now includes vaccinations at this stage. This includes the correct wearing of a mask or face covering. This includes social distancing. Don’t be surrounded by a crowd of people and everything in between if you don’t have to, or people outside your home. People have to work and people have to go to school, and all of those things are very important. It just has to be a way to do it so that more people don’t get infected. “
WRBL: To what extent do you think people who refuse to mask themselves relate to people who refuse to follow doctor’s orders on an individual basis?
Townsend: “In a practice called non-compliance. There was certainly a consequence of being non-compliant. Which would include the worsening of peoples illnesses or the development of heart disease from stroke, all of those things of morbidity that would happen or mortality. Basically it’s the same thing at this level because not to adhere to things that come from a scientific point of view and to try to control this virus with the available tools that we have. The same thing existed. Mortality increases, morbidity increases. The consequences up to and including death. Up to and including not being able to work, to live where one wants to live, to find accommodation. There are a lot of issues with not being able to get a handle on what is called non-compliance and in fact it’s very similar, I can relate those similarities. Every action has consequences.
WRBL: What do you think is the biggest change in your job since the start of the pandemic?
Townsend: “The biggest change is not knowing what my day will be like. It needs to be dealt with immediately and created there around the COVID virus scene. Weather is the vaccines that test information about it. People want what they want now. And not to understand very demanding, and therefore we do a lot of stops and ignitions of a dime. Because there is a need to create platforms and do things that we need to do to make sure that we; number one, follow the rules and regulations given to me from my superiors, state office and everything. I don’t even really have a routine that’s the biggest change.
WRBL: What is your strategy for this next stage of the pandemic?
Townsend: “The strategy is to move around and deliver the vaccine so that it is accessible to the community that needs the vaccine and can be anyone. which is 16 counties. You just need to make them available and accessible to get to places where people may not have transportation or where people can just walk or maybe get there. Meet people where they are. This is really the point. Weather is the church, weather is a hospital, weather is a beauty salon or a hairdressing salon. Any type of event that occurs in our general geographic area or in our community is involved in these. So whatever we can do to get it out there, we make house calls for those who are housebound and can’t get out, the list goes on and on and we try new and creative ideas to try to find ways to advertise. social media, newspapers, television, any platform that we can use to get people to be recognized and to do it ”
WRBL: How does it feel to know that despite your best efforts to educate people, some people choose not to believe the facts given to them by science and experts?
“The number of deaths really now, currently, is really related to the unvaccinated, not the vaccinated. It really is a sad thing to think about and not have people believe in the system but have a lot of myths they believe in, untruths and misinformation. This is why this is happening along with a lot of misinformation.