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WE ARE STILL COUNTING ON YOU 

maskIt’s been nearly three months since COVID-19 arrived in the Lowcountry and I think it’s safe to say that the virus is not “just another flu,” as many first believed. Yet despite the extreme but necessary measures we all endured to slow (not stop) the spread, it seems that many of us want to believe—or at least behave—as if the pandemic is over. 

When COVID-19 hit our community, I shared my thoughts about the seriousness of the virus and urged others to do their part to stop the spread, if not for themselves, then for all of those at high risk and those battling the virus on the front lines. 

Our own healthcare heroes urged others to stay home so that they could stay at the hospital and help patients, echoing the voices of healthcare workers, leaders and infectious disease experts around the globe. They urged, we complied, and it ultimately flattened the curve. 

Now that every state has eased or lifted some restrictions in hopes of putting people back to work and boosting the economy, we must remember that opening the doors to business doesn’t mean we have closed the doors on COVID-19. 

An increase in cases is inevitable, but we can still control its impact on our community. If we remain vigilant, continue to social distance, mask up and follow hand hygiene and infection prevention recommendations, we can prevent a flare up and preserve all the great work done to this point. 

No matter your age or your politics, your behavior will make the difference. The choices you make will either prevent or promote the spread of COVID-19. It is your choice and for everyone’s sake, I hope you choose wisely. 

Russell Baxley
President and CEO, Beaufort Memorial Hospital

STEM CELL THERAPIES SHOW PROMISE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19

As an emergency physician on the frontlines of the COVID-19 epidemic who also works at the Fraum Center for Restorative Health, I am seeing my two passions—stem cell therapies and emergency medicine— intersect in this pandemic. In addition to helping patients overcome chronic joint pain and other ailments that have plagued them for years, these therapies are showing promise in fighting COVID-19. 

Stem cells have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. In patients with severe COVID-19 disease, inflammation is doing the damage as their internal signaling systems go awry and damage their organs. 

Stem cell therapies’ anti-inflammatory effect has been studied extensively in rheumatoid arthritis (another disease caused by out-of-control inflammation). In a recent study from China about stem cells published last month in the journal “Aging and Disease,” a group of seven patients with severe COVID-19 who received IV stem cell therapy showed complete/drastic improvement within 48 hours in this trial. 

In another case study from China, physicians used stem cells obtained from umbilical cords to treat one patient with severe COVID-19 who was rapidly declining despite receiving traditional anti-viral medications. The patient rapidly improved and survived. Her lab work post-treatment reflected what we have seen in other studies: her inflammatory markers improved and her lymphocytes (immune system cells) returned to normal.

By mid-April, there were more than 30 stem cell trials for COVID-19 disease underway worldwide. In the U.S. in early April, two separate human trials testing the use of stem cells to treat COVID-19 were announced. These are the first Phase 2 clinical trials in the U.S. for any stem cell therapy. 

On Hilton Head Island, I have used stem cell therapies to treat patients with chronic pain, joint problems and other issues and have seen impressive results. 

Heather Hinshelwood, MD
Board-certified Emergency Physician and fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians


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