This summer has been quite the roller coaster ride of politics, weather, ongoing pandemic, and more.
First, the Dobbs decision sent shockwaves through our country. It is clear that the impacts of the Supreme Court decision will be profound but the details of state-specific laws remain somewhat unclear. Some experts suggest it will be years before we fully understand all the implications. Last week, our own Drs. Dineo Khabele and Tessa Madden joined Rebecca Wanzo for a thoughtful discussion of reproductive health post-Dobbs. Additional discussions are being held on both campuses in coming weeks.
Climate change has been acutely felt throughout the US. Wildfires in the west, heat waves across the country, and flash flooding here and in Kentucky have had a devastating impact on so many including loss of life and lifetimes of memories. The Medical, Danforth and North campuses all received damage during last week’s floods. Day care centers and schools around the city were impacted including those of Wash U and BJC. If you or your family is struggling as a result of the floods, resources are available. A big shout out to our facilities team, emergency management and WU Protective Services for all their work making sure our campuses are safe and usable.
COVID-19 continues to affect us as well. The BA-5 variant has firmly taken hold. We have very high positivity rates in the community. Many faculty and staff have had COVID or had family members contract COVID. Fortunately, for most of us, the clinical course has been relatively mild. We are seeing stable admissions numbers in the 60-70 range at BJH most days. In good news, we do have good treatments, the vaccine continues to provide strong protection against severe illness, and there are likely variant-specific vaccine boosters coming in the near future. Our strategies for supporting a safe environment continue to be effective – wear a mask when inside on campus and not eating or drinking; don’t come to work or school when sick; and get tested when you have symptoms.
In our world of education, we had lots of big events last month. The first was that our GME office and residency and fellowship programs onboarded a few hundred new housestaff. Welcome to all of you and great job GME leaders and staff!!! The second was our LCME mock visit. It went really well! Of course, there are things we need to work on. In my view, one of the biggest wins was that we know what we need to work on and are actively working on it – go program evaluation and continuous quality improvement! The second big win was the passion with which every person involved in the visit talked about Washington University. In all, we had over 100 people involved including students, residents, faculty and staff. As one of the reviewers said, “This is a truly great place and your students, residents and faculty made us feel it.” A HUGE thank you to Eve Colson, Leslie Blaylock, the ETIU team and everyone who participated in the three-day practice sessions. The ETIU team helped us do a sudden full hybrid shift when I got COVID (fun, fun). And most importantly, a big thank you to every single person who touches the educational programs of our institution – none of this is possible without each and every one of you.
As the summer comes to an end and we prepare for our new students to arrive, I continue to be amazed by all we have accomplished. The roller coaster has been a little bumpy and has taken some unexpected turns but it has also been at times wonderful and always exciting. I feel blessed to be on this ride with all of you!