More school-age children have returned to in-person learning during the last few weeks. More employees are returning to their workplaces. Sports stadiums are filling with spectators again, and theaters and concert venues are welcoming back audiences.
Although these welcome changes point to a return to “normal,” the current resurgence of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is troubling and disheartening. The pandemic’s ongoing toll on our hospital and health system employees has been particularly devastating. The AHA’s new e-book “The Pandemic: A Time of Challenges and Champions” opens a window to stories of those serving on the front lines.
As COVID-19 variants spread, health care workers remain on the front lines fighting this difficult battle, with flu season just around the corner. Hospitals are doing everything possible to manage staff shortages and provide our teams with the physical supplies and emotional support they need. One of my greatest concerns is that it’s hard to predict the pandemic’s continued impact and the long-term prognosis for our health care organizations and workforce.
During my recent Leadership Rounds conversation with Trinity Health CEO Mike Slubowski, he advised that amid these pressures, we need to keep telling our stories and sharing experiences. I see many hospitals and health systems and their caregivers doing that very effectively.
Clinicians are sharing their stories through online videos, virtual town halls and news interviews. Their candid accounts of intense experiences trying to save patients with COVID-19 have real impact, as they urge community members to help stop the spread by getting the vaccine, if they haven’t done so, and masking up. Hospital websites are posting videos of patients sharing their harrowing yet hopeful experiences as they recuperate from the virus.
Be sure to keep checking AHA’s COVID-19 vaccination communications resources. New resources include “I’m a Physician/I’m a Nurse” and “On the Fence” public service announcements with clinicians encouraging COVID-19 vaccination. All PSAs are available in English or Spanish, and AHA can help organizations add their own branding.
Together, we must keep encouraging our communities to get vaccinated and stay the course. We must keep supporting our health care teams. We must keep sharing stories of challenges, hardship, hope and resilience. We must do everything we can to make the “new normal” a safe and healthy place for our patients, their families, our communities and our heroic health care workforce.
Rod Hochman, M.D.