Fort Loudoun Medical Center doctor Erik Geibig

During the COVID-19 outbreak peaks of 2020, patients sat in the lobby of Fort Loudoun Medical Center in Lenoir City with IVs pumping fluids and nutrients through their veins.

Nurses were checking blood pressure and other vital signs. Doctors assessed patients with ankle sprains or nausea and prescribed pain relief medication or CT scans to better understand their patients’ ailments.

Hospital hallways were lined with beds full of patients with fevers, heart problems or abdominal pain while hospital staff re-gloved, re-dressed and re-masked, adapting to protocols in evolving and performing tasks outside of their job description.

“That place was just a combat zone,” said Dr. Erik Geibig, director of the emergency department at Fort Loudoun Medical Center. “I mean, you just had patients waiting all along.”

As Geibig, 51, led his team through an unprecedented global pandemic, he was also fighting a more personal battle.

On Thanksgiving weekend 2020, he was told he had stage four prostate cancer.

He began receiving aggressive chemotherapy treatments, but the prognosis was not positive.

Through it all, Geibig worked his usual hospital shifts and treated patients despite his own weakened immune system. He attended his daughter’s soccer games and traveled to see his son play hockey in North Carolina. He remained an inspiration and impetus to his staff at Fort Loudoun.

He stood up for his hospital, his community and his family amid a grim personal health crisis with “honor and bravery,” said Travis Estes, director of Loudon County Emergency Medical Services.

That’s what makes Geibig one of Knox.biz’s 2022 Healthcare Heroes for Pandemic and Immunization Leadership.

Fort Loudoun Medical Center Emergency Department Director Dr. Erik Geibig poses for a photo outside the hospital, Friday, July 22, 2022.

More than an oath

It was frightening for Geibig to see his hospital in crisis, especially during the surges caused by the delta and omicron variants. But with outpatient services closed and other nearby hospitals in the same overwhelmed situation, the Fort Loudoun team continued to care for the community.

With reduced hospital staff, depleted resources and fear of the virus, Geibig set an example for his team. He made sure they provided quality care to their patients.

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