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Jefferson Health

Home of Sidney Kimmel Medical College

A Call to Action for Philadelphia During the Coronavirus Crisis

Jefferson Health leadership share how community values matter and will see us through these uncertain times.

It is the great paradox of COVID-19, that in order to accomplish social distancing, we need to act together. In order to create distance, we need to come together, not physically, but through our values.

As quiet descends on our streets and skies, our schools, restaurants and businesses, in this extraordinary effort to save lives, please know that we who work in health care thank you.

We are seeing collective and individual kindness at an unprecedented level. For example, we saw an elderly couple standing worriedly outside of a grocery store fearful of going inside because they are at high risk for serious disease if they were to be infected with COVID-19. But a stranger stopped and offered to go into the store to collect and purchase their groceries. This stranger took the risk and brought the groceries outside to the waiting couple. We predict that when we are on the other side of COVID-19, there will be many stories of how we came together as a community.

What we see is that values matter. While we are isolating ourselves, we are acting to protect each other. We are thinking beyond our own self-interest.

Values that “enable” societies prepare us well for crisis like COVID-19. This is about people doing the right thing and being their best.

Each of us needs to realize that we have an incredible opportunity to help the people who will be most hurt by social distancing. These are unsung heroes. They are hourly employees, who will lose weeks of income and some who have no child care, they are small-scale shop owners, and they are older individuals living on a fixed income, who are fearful of leaving their homes.

To live up to values that enable societies, we need creative ways to help those who are fearful and hurting.

In our world – the world of hospitals and clinical centers – for large teams of clinicians and staff the preparation and execution of handling COVID-19 feels like organizing a moon landing every day. Their sacrifice of time with family, their intensity, also reflects society’s greatest of values.

Our commitment to serve drives us – we work every day to do the right thing and put people first. But we also aim to be bold – to think creatively and differently as we make quick decisions and move very fast. This is why at Jefferson we have set up four testing sites, why we have stockpiled personal protective equipment, why we’re setting new protocols for people with other illnesses like cancer. It’s because our values prepared us well for COVID, and we are deeply proud of everyone working intensely at Jefferson to be ready for you.

We are not alone, all local health systems and providers are doing their part too.

A large part of the creative response to help the most vulnerable at Jefferson is captured in what’s called “telehealth,” using a smartphone, tablet or television to talk with patients of all kinds, no matter where they are. We’ve been doing this for years, and our ability to care for folks without them having to come into a clinic has been a great relief for many. We are hitting new records every day for telehealth visits because people want to speak to a physician, but they don’t want to leave their home. We are making that possible.

We know the pace will speed up in the weeks to come. We will all be pressed to ensure we put people first, that we live our values every day. We also know that in the months to come, the pressure will slacken as the epidemic crests. At that time, we will need to reflect on how much we owe each other and what it means to be part of a larger community that cares.

All of us, whether health care workers, government workers, private sector workers no matter, are tackling this together. In the future, we will need to stay connected and continue to shape our society based on our greatest values.

Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, President, Thomas Jefferson University; and CEO, Jefferson Health,
Bruce Meyer, MD, MBA, President, Jefferson Health,
Jonathan Gleason, MD, Executive Vice President, Chief Quality Officer, Jefferson Health.

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COVID-19, Special Reports