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Q&A with Oaklawn's New Chief Medical Officer, Dr. J. Summer Liston-Crandall

We recently sat down with Dr. J. Summer Liston-Crandall, Oaklawn’s newly appointed Chief Medical Officer, to discuss her new role, the COVID vaccine, and what she’s most looking forward to in Oaklawn’s future.

Congrats on your new role as Oaklawn’s Chief Medical Officer. You’ll also continue being a practicing physician. How do you feel doing both roles simultaneously will be beneficial?

In medicine, like in so many other fields, sometimes there can be a disconnect between administration and those who are doing the day-to-day work. By keeping my feet in the clinical world and continuing to practice medicine in Marshall and Tekonsha, I’ll remain tuned into those challenges while working with other hospital leaders to improve the patient and provider experience at Oaklawn.

You’re also Oaklawn’s physician lead for the Incident Command Group. What does this include?

Since the pandemic began, Oaklawn Hospital leaders have met sometimes daily and other times weekly to make decisions on the day-to-day functions of the hospital and offices. We’ve had to make decisions about basics, like where to hang the sign to remind people to socially distance in the waiting room, to big decisions like putting elective procedures on hold. Now we’re able to function well in this new normal of PPE and distancing and all, but I’ve been able to be part of each of those decisions along the way.

A lot of people are concerned about getting the COVID vaccine. Why is the vaccine such an important part of getting back to pre-COVID life?

As a reminder, regular vaccines like tetanus and whooping cough are one of the most important ways to stay healthy, both individually and at the population level. In recent years, we’ve seen clusters of measles, for example, amongst children who aren’t vaccinated. COVID vaccination takes on an especially important role because of how much of the population is infected, and how many hospitalizations and deaths there have been. In each surge of disease, like there is now, hospital systems have been at risk of being overwhelmed.

Some people believe that there are microchips in the COVID vaccine that are used to track humans. What are your thoughts on this?

While it sounds funny, this vaccination effort has been affected by all kinds of outlandish claims. To be clear, there are no microchips in the vaccines, there are no known impacts on fertility and the RNA and mRNA vaccines do not change your DNA.

There’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there about the COVID vaccine. Do you have any trusted resources that you recommend people check out if they want to be better informed before getting vaccinated?

I think the single best site is the CDC website. Here, you can learn about each of the three vaccines available and get all of your questions answered.

How can someone sign-up to get the COVID vaccine at Oaklawn?

Getting the COVID vaccine at Oaklawn has gotten so easy. You can either register online or you can call the COVID hotline at (269) 789-7614 and staff will call you to set-up an appointment, which will generally be within a week or two.

When you think about Oaklawn’s future, what most excites you?

I look forward to working with the team here to guide our organization out of the COVID pandemic in which we’ve been thinking COVID day and night, to a more healthy future where we can further support our community’s health in a much broader way.