An open letter to the community, by Jeffrey Feit, MD, MSHA — Valley Health‘s Vice President of Population Health
Over the last eight months, we have been challenged with an unprecedented health crisis. All of us have been affected; we have learned to change our activities, watch our distance from others, wear a mask, and take other basic precautions to keep each other safe.
At Valley Health, we have learned how best to test and care for patients with a new infectious disease, using all the information at our disposal to keep each other and our patients as safe as possible. We’ve seen amazing colleagues repeatedly rise to the occasion and display creativity and courage to solve new problems as they develop.
Throughout the community, we’ve also seen remarkable successes where leaders have risen up to meet the moment. Our businesses have reopened and, despite the changes we all see every day, our society continues to function. Public health authorities have offered steady leadership and remarkable energy and support. The nonprofit community has served the most vulnerable, doing more with less, brilliantly. Our universities are open and meeting their mission to educate and develop our young people. Our public education systems have opened in many different formats and, despite enormous challenges, have been able to stay open, meeting the needs of our children with an astonishing commitment to their craft. At the time of this writing, we’ve been fortunate to have only sporadic cases in our schools, with no outbreaks attributed to spread within them. This is an incredible achievement, a testament to planning and discipline, and a commitment to safety.
Over the next several months, as we eagerly await a vaccine, we face a new challenge as the influenza season combines with coronavirus and cold weather forces us indoors. Most health experts expect to see an increase in the number of cases, and with that we will face a greater need for precaution, self-isolation and quarantine.
As eager as we all are to return to normal life, I ask you to reflect on our successes and redouble your efforts in what we hope will be the final push. It will require us to forego our normal holiday parties and gatherings as large, indoor crowds with food and drink create risk. As we continue to learn how to live safely, we need to determine whether winter school sports like basketball and wrestling can really be done safely or whether they will likely derail our progress. If we can’t do it outside, with distance, or with a mask, then we still can’t do it safely.
I am proud of what we have all accomplished, and am hopeful we’re nearing the end. As businesses, schools, a community and a health system, we’re coming though this crisis, together. I am grateful to live and work in a place where the community and local medical providers rise up to meet the challenge, and hope that 2021 will bring new opportunities for us all.
Dr. Feit is Chief Medical Officer of Valley Health Medical Group/VPE and Valley Health Vice President, Population Health.