COVID-19 is the enemy — healthcare providers will be our heroes

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COVID-19 has created chaos, concern and confusion for all of us and in all corners of the world. As we collectively experience the real-world ramifications of a global pandemic, we are faced with uncertainty about the most basic of needs, the health and safety of our loved ones.

In this moment in time the world has a common enemy. If ever there was a time when we all needed a superhero, that time is right now.

The good news is that we’ve already got one.

The front line of the COVID-19 battle is hospitals and healthcare providers. In the spirit of a superhero, they are literally risking their lives to save ours. And in every community and healthcare facility around the world, they are putting on their uniforms and honing their superpowers right now, heading into harm’s way to help us.

In recent years healthcare has become a political punchline on both sides of the aisle. The complexity and necessity of our healthcare system is often dismissed, and the work and compassion of our healthcare providers is often underappreciated. Having worked in healthcare for 30 years, the one thing I know for sure is that people choose this profession for a reason that is both pure and simple – they want and need to help and care for others.

Because hospitals and clinics are the largest employers in most communities, you don’t have to look far to find these heroes. They are your family, friends and neighbors. As we hole up in our homes and telecommute to work, doctors, nurses and those that support them are heading out of their homes to face one of the fiercest enemies they have ever known on a scale that we have never seen. And they are stepping into that battle without the weapons they need to diagnose or treat patients to keep us safe.

That’s how the story starts, but it won’t be how it ends.

Already, our healthcare heroes are beginning to change the narrative. Manufacturing of critical supplies and equipment is being ramped up, drive-through diagnostic centers are being opened, additional treatment capacity is being developed, and telemedicine is coming online. This work is already saving lives and we need to recognize those who are making it happen.

Our heroes are treating patients with COVID-19 and helping to support those that do. They are heading into laboratories to help diagnose and manufacturing plants to help develop equipment and supplies. They are making it easier for people to provide and pay for care. There are heroes literally everywhere.

It’s been said that in times of chaos, character is revealed, and leaders emerge. In other words, heroes step forward. This is healthcare’s heroic moment. If this story is to have the ending that we all want and need, it will be because of the doctors, nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists, epidemiologists, administrators and public health officials along with the many other key stakeholders in healthcare who stepped up and stepped into the battle.

I’ve come to know many of these heroes first-hand leading a company that serves over 200 of the top healthcare delivery systems in the country and 1,000 hospitals. I’ve spent time with them as they have been working through how to best prepare for and respond to this crisis. Now more than ever we are all in dire need of their counsel, care and compassion. The good news is that they are all there for us now and will be there to help.

But we shouldn’t take their help for granted. Those of us who are not healthcare workers have a responsibility as well, and that is to listen to them, support them, thank them and celebrate them. We must be there to help our heroes.
The headline right now is that COVID-19 is our collective crisis and our common enemy. But at the same time, another story is being written and it’s about the everyday superheroes amongst us. That story will be a much better story about our healthcare heroes that were there to save the day.

Please share your stories and photos of your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues at #MyHealthcareHero as well as anyone else who inspires you at #OurCoronaFighters on social media. Let’s thank those who will be risking their lives to save ours.

Dan Michelson is the Chief Executive Officer of Strata Decision Technology and the author of “Margin + Mission: A Prescription for Curing Healthcare’s Cost Crisis”

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