Chair Update, April 2020

Simonsen.Kari.FAP.jpgThere is simply no escaping the fact that we are living through a monumental and historical time with the COVID-19 pandemic. We have stretched our workforce capacity to its limits in some of our clinical areas, with long hours in planning, preparedness, policy development and patient evaluations. In other areas, we have strictly limited and forced reductions in clinical care to reduce the potential for spread of the infection to healthy populations.

We have also drastically curtailed face to face activities, reduced our research activities on campus and pivoted our educational programs to online with hardly a moment of transition. Each of these changes to allow social distancing and to "flatten the curve" have been drastic, necessary and supported by you as caring professionals. But these major operational changes have also had a significant impact on us as medical faculty. 

Some of us have taken this time to enhance our productivity in new ways. We have embraced telehealth and learned new clinical skills for remote care. We have dusted off academic projects that needed our undivided attention, we have started new educational programs for online learning and we have embraced new research projects. The culmination of these valued contributions will be a part of the legacy of this unusual time.

In addition, we also need to take some time to pause, to breathe and to reflect on what is changing and how we hope to move forward. We have been given the gift of this time to consider which among our myriad responsibilities and activities we hope to embrace when a sense of normalcy is restored. We have also been given time to expand our capacity to work remotely, to consider new ways of engaging and to connect across physical distances.

Throughout it all, I want to take this opportunity to make sure all of you know how grateful I am for each of you and the care you provide to our patients, for the work you do to train the next generation of physicians and scientists and to advance the research that leads to lifesaving cures. 

I don't know if it's because it seems so fitting for pediatricians, or simply because he left such a lasting legacy as a caring human, but I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Mr. Fred Rogers, and with my thanks for being inspiring helpers as we face COVID-19.