Departing LRH Chief Reviews Her Tenure, Coronavirus Response

The president and CEO of Lakeland Regional Health said medical personnel have done a dedicated, unbiased job of providing for the coronavirus needs of under-served communities. But she wonders if more could have and can be done.

Elaine Thompson is retiring from the top job at LRH Dec. 31 after 10 years.

On Monday she gave a presentation of the many accomplishments and new services the hospital offers during the Lakeland City Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting.  She was lauded by commissioners — who gave her a standing ovation at the suggestion of Mayor Bill Mutz — for her record of accomplishment.

Elaine Thompson speaking at Monday’s City Commission meeting

Commissioner Phillip Walker asked Thompson whether people of color are treated equally compared to whites when it comes to how LRH treats coronavirus.

Thompson repeatedly said there was no bias on the part of medical workers, but noted that the virus has had a disproportionate effect on black and brown populations.

Thompson said the numbers LRH are fine. “But did we test enough?”

Thompson said LRH has reached out to minority communities, particularly through churches. She said the hospital sends minority messengers to talk to minority audiences because of the trust factor.

She asked whether people in under-served areas are treated as well medically as the people around Lake Hollingsworth.

“Probably not,” she said.

Thompson said the challenge to serve under-served communities is that there isn’t an equal platform to begin with. “Access to education” and the “lack of the Internet in some communities” makes the job harder, Thompson said.

Thompson thanked Walker for his questioning and said she would go back to her office and look for better ways to do things.

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