Chamber hears from local government, healthcare, more experts

Published 8:49 am Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A Community Wellness Webinar hosted by The Shelby County Chamber on Tuesday, May 12, featured updates from local government, law enforcement, mental health and healthcare leaders.

Giving updates to the local business community were Shelby County Manager Chad Scroggins, Compact 2020 Executive Director Clay Hammac, Central Alabama Wellness Executive Director Richard Fallin and Shelby Baptist Medical Center CEO Daniel Listi.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a trying time for many, other areas have seen surges, such as visits to parks.

“What we’ve seen is just record numbers at Oak Mountain State Park,” Scroggins said and added that Cahaba River Park and even the Shelby County Landfill have experienced increased usage.

Unlike many other area municipalities and counties, Shelby County did not shut down services completely, Scroggins said.

Services that have remained open for residents include license offices, the property tax department, probate court and more.

Offices that may not be open to the public have made arrangements to still offer services through new approaches, such as queueing system that allows people to wait in their vehicles instead of in a common room.

With unemployment rates reaching record numbers, Scroggins said it was important to county officials to continue offering services as possible, citing construction inspection being important to workers, contractors, lenders and more.

“There’s a lot of people connected to that one building inspector,” Scroggins said.

The Shelby County Courthouse will open Monday, May 18, with four courts in operation.

Jury trials have been postponed to July 1.

Like county services, Hammac said law enforcement and related areas have not shut down but instead changed methods.

“Public safety has not tapped the brakes at all through this process,” Hammac said.

Compact 2020 is a collaborative effort that identifies teenagers and young adults at risk for illicit drug abuse and addiction, and then seeks to intervene.

The quarantine period has proved challenging for many youth, and experts have found that those who have a disposition toward unhealthy choices become even more susceptible to experimentation or even self-medicating with narcotics during a time of frustration.

“We have identified more students who are struggling at this time,” Hammac said. “We find students longing for those social relationships they had in that school environment.”

Fallin said Central Alabama Wellness has relied on teletherapy during the time of quarantine and has actually seen a 12-percent increase in services rendered.

“This has been a really stressful time for all individuals,” Fallin said.

In its offices, Central Alabama Wellness has made social distancing accommodations including providing masks and marking seats to ensure visitors remain 6 feet apart.

Fallin mentioned that the organization offers a Crisis Hotline that can be reached at (205) 651-0077.

An especially difficult part of the quarantine for healthcare workers has been not allowing, in many instances, loved ones to be present in the hospital with patients.

“We know having an advocate for a loved one is a really big deal,” Listi said. “That’s been really taxing on us.”

Following Gov. Kay Ivey’s announcement the state would return to a “Safer at Home” order, hospitals could begin performing elective surgeries again.

“It’s awesome when you get to go back to work and do what you do well,” Listi said about the resumption of such services at Shelby Baptist Medical Center.

Listi thanked the community for its support such as donations of masks and food.

“It’s been unbelievable the amount of support we’ve gotten from the community,” he said.

Shelby Baptist currently had six patients with COVID-19 and none in intensive care, but the reopening of businesses and other aspects of life brings uncertainty in the healthcare industry, Listi said.

“I truly don’t know where we’re going to be six weeks from now after we go enjoy our beach, enjoy our playground and those sorts of things,” he said.