As a recently retired healthcare executive—having spent 41 years in healthcare management, 32 of those in CEO positions—I’ve seen a lot. I was a department director when Three Mile Island had its breakdown emergency and CEO of a large Virginia hospital near the Pentagon on 9/11, just to name two. Coupled with all those countless other emergent and urgent situations that come up seemingly every week, I thought I’d seen just about everything. But then the COVID-19 pandemic came along, and I realized I was seeing something entirely different.
This letter isn’t about any of the clinical unknowns, material shortages or social issues—it’s about a new kind of hero. We all grew up with heroes, whether they were cowboys, movie stars, or maybe a favorite teacher. Then 9/11 came along, and we recognized a new kind of hero—our first responders. Our police, fire fighters, EMTs and everyone who puts their lives on the line for us every day for one emergency or another. And now, we have yet another kind of hero—the nurses, doctors, techs, aides, support staff and everyone else in healthcare today. Of course, just like first responders, they’ve been with us all along. And their work has always been heroic.
We’ve all heard the pleas for more gowns, face shields, masks, ventilators, etc. These are real pleas from real people. The physicians, nurses, techs, and aides caring directly for these terribly sick coronavirus-infected patients desperately need these things to help protect them from catching the disease themselves. But what’s never been in short supply? Commitment, loyalty, responsibility, duty and honor.
I know as a retired healthcare exec I’m a little biased, but these professionals give me great hope and reassurance that together, with good people like this helping others, we’ll all get through this intact and even stronger than before. Thank you, front-liners, and may God bless you!
Steven E. Brown