Pandemic is wake-up call for healthcare, UPMC leader says

COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for the healthcare industry and U.S., underscoring the need to better prepare for future pandemics, UPMC's chief medical and scientific officer said during testimony before the Pennsylvania Senate.

Steven Shapiro, MD, also serves as president of Pittsburgh-based UPMC's Health Services division, which consists of 40 hospitals and 700 outpatient sites in three states. 

Here are four excerpts from his May 13 testimony:

On prioritizing COVID-19 response tactics:

"The problem we’re not going to be able to fix in the short term is the complete eradication of the virus. The problem we can fix is to serve and protect our seniors, especially those in nursing homes. If we do that, we can reopen society, and though infectious cases may rise ... the death rate will diminish, providing time for the development of treatments and vaccines."

On using social-distancing to contain the virus:

"What we cannot do is extend social isolation. Humans are social beings, and we are already seeing the adverse mental health consequences of loneliness, and that is before the much greater effects of economic devastation take hold on the human condition."

On the pandemic's lasting implications:

"This has been a wake-up call for our healthcare system and our nation in general. Healthcare workers have stepped up to the challenge, and we will be here to safely and scientifically help our society reemerge."

On preparing for future pandemics:

"One thing is certain: Pandemics will be part of our future, and we must be better prepared. We can't be put in a position to have to choose between death by pathogen or death by economic shutdown."

To view the full testimony, which also includes remarks from Donald Yealy, MD, UPMC's chair of emergency medicine, click here.


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