Dr. Tina Stefanski is the Regional Medical Director for the Office of Public Health in Acadiana. We have interviewed her multiple times since the COVID-19 outbreak. When we asked to spotlight her as one of our Women Impacting Acadiana stories, she wanted to honor those on the front lines still fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
“We have such a tremendous medical community, both men and women, throughout this region and state and I think those individuals deserve the recognition,” says Dr. Stefanski. Her public health team has been at the front lines battling COVID-19 since the virus made its way to Acadiana in March.
She says, “We don’t want people to forget that we continue to have people hospitalized with this virus. Thankfully the numbers are much lower and that’s because of the community of Acadiana and the state. They all really responded.”
The coronavirus outbreak response started three months ago and has been different than anything Dr. Stefansky has seen in her 18 plus years as our regional medical director. She has had the difficult job of asking residents to stay physically apart, teaching us what social distancing means, and keeping the community informed about a virus the medical community knew little about.
“I learned a lot from hurricanes Katrina and Rita several years ago. I learned at that time that you really need a strong public health office and department that can help coordinate and communicate not only to the general public but to the healthcare professionals who are in the middle of it,” says Dr. Stefanski.
She still encourages best practices like washing your hands and social distancing because the actions that we take will help to protect those more vulnerable to the virus and our health care workers. “ I really do appreciate the opportunity to highlight the work of our epidemiologist and our public health nurses. They are working behind the scenes, who maybe don’t want to be in front of the camera but really are treating every call and every question as if they were responding to their own family member,” says Dr. Stefanski.