The vaccines are here, but we can’t let our guard down
The article “Pandemic backlash jeopardizes public health powers, leaders” hit close to home. I’m vice chairman of an Atlanta-area board of health, but I feel powerless.
Dave, a close friend, died of COVID-19 in November. We met in 2011. He was a SCORE Association volunteer, doing free mentoring for small businesses. He was sharp, a retired banker. I was also retired, a former healthcare executive. I began mentoring businesses with him. Dave eventually stopped volunteering, but we remained close.
When Dave came down with COVID, he called me. Dave was in good health. He said he had the virus for a week, but that it just felt like a cold. However, a few days later, Dave was brought to a hospital by ambulance and put on a ventilator. He later died.
Yes, vaccines are now being administered. But don’t believe politicians when they say we have “turned the corner on COVID.” The virus is still winning. The numbers across the country tell the story.
I’ll use Dave’s suburban Atlanta county as an example: On Oct. 10, Henry County’s test positivity rate was 6.7%; on Nov. 19 it was 10%; by Dec. 18 it was 17.6%. The county’s average daily cases surged from 39 in mid November to 111 in mid-December.
Some project these trends won’t change much and may even get worse this winter before vaccines can be administered in large enough numbers to make a difference.
My wife and I went to a drugstore recently to get our flu shots. Two employees were wearing masks around their necks. This and other reckless behaviors are why the virus has continued to spread.
It’s my sincere hope that the vaccine distribution will progress smoothly and that everyone will have faith in their safety and roll up their sleeves. Unfortunately, far too many Americans are telling pollsters that they will not.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we can’t let our guard down. And everyone needs to get their shots.
Peachtree City, Ga.
Healthcare transformation will be difficult, but it needs to happen
Regarding the op-ed “It’s time for a conversation on transformation; but know the pitfalls along the path to change,” David Shore and Dr. Susan Turney are to be commended for their initiatives to make change happen at the Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic Health System and for their analyses of the difficult problems involved.
This is nothing new. In his book The Prince, penned nearly 500 years ago, Niccolo Machiavelli (no slouch in strategic planning) said: “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan or more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.” I would also quote from an exchange with another famous Italian, Michael Corleone in “The Godfather: Part II,” when discussing an assassination of a competitor: “Difficult, not impossible.”
The op-ed authors are correct—the time for change in healthcare is now, no matter that it may be hard.
Dr. Jim Webster
Shelter Island, N.Y.
Staffing shortages likely here to stay
Regarding the recent article “Providers scramble for staff to care for pandemic’s sick,” the healthcare worker shortage is not just a pandemic issue. There were profound shortages of doctors and nurses before the pandemic ever started. COVID-19 has certainly amplified the problem and brought the healthcare workforce issue to the forefront.
It would be wrong to conclude that once the pandemic subsides that all will be well with our healthcare workforce—the shortages that existed pre-pandemic will be even greater post-pandemic.
WorldWide HealthStaff Solutions