Eva’s Excerpt January 2022

Happy New Year?

I mean it as a rhetorical question. Without a doubt, we are starting this year in a tough spot. COVID cases are surging with the widespread introduction of the Omicron variant across the US. Unlike prior surges, we are hit hard with not just hospitalizations, but also large numbers of faculty and staff testing positive and unable to work. The COVID Call Center has been overwhelmed with calls and testing sites are packed, so much so that we are unable to perform post-exposure testing on employees through Occupational Health. Even if you have not thus far been impacted by COVID in your home or amongst your family members, you may be struggling with back to school woes, the strains COVID has placed on travel, or the sheer weight of emotion that this wave has brought down on us and the country.

While it may feel like we are reliving the winter of 2021, we are decidedly not. We are blessed with vaccines that are remarkably effective at reducing death, hospitalization and severe illness. That is HUGE! We know so much more about how to prevent the spread of COVID through simple measures like wearing a mask when we are inside or in close proximity to others and washing your hands regularly and before eating, drinking or touching your face. We have adequate personal protective equipment in the hospital and clinics. We know how to run our hospital, clinics, labs and classrooms safely. That is all a LOT different. This is not a happy time, but it is a much more hopeful time than last year, and for that I am very grateful.

Because of the volume of people out—students, residents, fellows, faculty, staff, we will need to be nimble to get through this time. Again, fortunately for us, we know something about how to do that. Some classes may need to move to virtual, regardless of size. We will need to help each other out, in whatever ways we can. We will need to be patient and kind, despite frustrations. And we will need to remember that everyone is doing the best they can given their situation. Finally, and importantly, we need to keep steadfast in ensuring we stay focused on decisions that maintain the success of our critical vision and mission. A special thank you to our clerkship directors and clerkship staff and our OMSE team who are remarkably juggling the launch of Gateway Phase 2, the ongoing Year 3 clerkships, and the moving target that is the clinical environment in a COVID surge. There are no words to express my gratitude.

So, while we may not be starting the new year “happy,” there remains much to be thankful for and, at least I, have a lot of hope for a better 2022.