While these words were written 161 years ago, they sound ominously descriptive of 2020. In many ways, it has been the worst of times. The COVID virus has sickened millions and killed almost a million people worldwide. It has stressed the healthcare system to its limits. It has put healthcare providers in harm’s way and left them overwhelmed and over-stressed. And it is still not over! Sadly, there still may be a “second wave” coming.
The beauty of dark times, however, is that it is precisely the time that the flicker of humanity’s light shines the brightest. The millions of health care workers around the world who, like firemen rushing into a burning building, have put on their scrubs and PPE and faced the fear of the unknown to care for patients in need. While patients were sick and dying without family, health care providers were at their side to comfort them while they died and support them as they got well on many long roads to recovery. Our colleagues became the support person for patients through difficult labors when limited or no support people could be present.
Our profession mobilized! We implemented telemedicine with unprecedented speed to try to cover the gap in our ability to see patients in person. This has led us to rethink how we provide patient care and, more pertinent to us, prenatal care. We implemented office guidelines that have kept our staff and our patients safe while getting back to our normal volume of patient care. Providers developed innovative ways to provide family planning services. We were challenged in developing protocol to resume utilization of the operating room in a safe and efficient manner. Challenging times are challenges for us to innovate and innovation is happening everywhere. Our first webinar will examine how this has affected us and changed our practices.
A large part of our mission involves collegiality, but we will not be able to meet in person until possibly February. Therefore, we are going to innovate and start our lecture series as interactive webinars. This year’s lecture series will focus on many of the problems and issues facing our profession in these turbulent times.
While things may still look a little dark and uncertain, I think there is a lot to be excited about for the next year! We will continue to come together as a profession to be the “heroes” we are all purported to be. Collegiality is so important now, more than ever, as we can all share our stories and support for each other as we navigate these stressful times. To make it even easier to share in the support of your colleagues, we are allowing free membership for this year. So please join us for our meetings! Invite Advanced Practice Nurses, Nurses and Family Practice Colleagues to join our webinars and consider membership in our new Auxiliary Member category.
DONALD DEBRAKELEER, DO