Methodist University Hospital president discusses fight against COVID-19

Updated: Sep. 25, 2020 at 9:10 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Navigating COVID-19 has been a challenge for everyone, but imagine the demands of running a major hospital in the pandemic!

WMC Action News 5′s Joe Birch learned what it’s like from the president of Methodist University Hospital.

Roland Cruickshank became president of Methodist University Hospital in March 2019 -- a year before a pandemic changed all our lives.

“It’s been very challenging. So we are in the people business and healing is oftentimes a family affair,” said Roland Cruickshank, president of Methodist University Hospital.

Methodist just started allowing one designated visitor per patient, lifting a strict ban on visitors to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

“The area is secure. Only certain staff members are allowed access,” said Cruickshank.

Methodist University has a 48-bed COVID-19 unit that’s hard to enter.

“It takes the entire team ---while we may talk about COVID units and COVID beds, It takes the entire healthcare team coming together every day to deliver care in a safer environment,” said Cruickshank.

Methodist has gone to great lengths to prevent burnout among its nearly 3,000 associates.

There’s pastoral care, a focus on mental wellness, even financial aid for those with that stressor. It’s the hospital president’s job to keep the place well-equipped and properly staffed so those who need a break can take one:

“So they can take that time off and relax and recharge and not be constantly grinding,” said Cruickshank.

The hospital president holds candid conversations daily with his team to examine COVID-19 data and all the other challenges of running a hospital in a pandemic.

“Also the public really needs to understand what we’re doing because public confidence has to be high.”

Cruickshank, a 20-year hospital administrative veteran, was recruited from Houston’s Vintage Hospital, where he was president.

A native of Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies, Cruickshank played basketball at the College of Charleston before heading to grad school. Now he’s offering assurance to everyone who needs hospital care to come because safety is the hospital’s No. 1 priority.

“We want to encourage everyone: please do not delay care.”

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