May 18, 2020
I received this very thoughtful letter from Dr. Tom Murphy, assistant dean for community affairs and health policy. Re-sending to all of you.
“If the definition of health is a complete state of physical, emotional, and social well-being and not merely the absence of diseases of infirmity, then currently the world is not very healthy.
COVID-19 has shined a spotlight on many issues. The current pandemic is attacking societies at their very core, affecting physical health, economic stability, ability to educate children and youth, secure access to adequate food supplies, and other hallmarks of a thriving society.
The human cost of the deaths of family and friends, the mental trauma, the unknown near and long-term pathological effects of the disease may echo for years to come. The social cost of isolation, anxiety, depression, loneliness, fear of the disease, stresses felt from a sense of loss of control and grieving over the loss of ability to participate in the usual activities of daily living are all being related by our patients to our UT providers, both in the clinics and via telemedicine.
One of our patients, a first-time mother was quite despondent that her five-day old newborn had never seen her face due to her constant wearing of a mask. Neither mother nor baby was a COVID-19 case. Once informed that the mask was not needed, the relief was palpable and sincere.
A student bound for university now feels uncertainty and anxiety about what sort of future he can have, relating that he really needs something positive to focus on.
There are many, many examples where our being available in clinics and remotely has and will continue to provide the physical and mental health relief our patients depended on us for.
While clearly stressed, we are also learning of the concerns our patients have for their care providers, stories of patient calls to clinics just wanting to know how the team there is doing, can they help in any way? We are receiving notes through the patient portal thanking us for being there. Some have sent lengthy prayers.
Our care providers are stressed too, the inherent risk of personal infection, the transmission risk to their families and the overall uncertainties of the disease. Yet the heroism and altruistic behavior of the staff has been remarkable. Taking additional shifts, working late, the increased levels of concern and support for their co-workers is widespread.
Yes, this is a time of unprecedented challenge, yet it is also a time when new options become possible. The importance of access to high quality primary and specialty healthcare has rarely been more evident. Now is the time to plan for the health care system and future we all want.”
Please join me in thanking Dr. Murphy for this thoughtful reflection—and of course A BIG THANK YOU to this wonderful community.