Today’s Theme: Progress

Today’s theme is about progress. 2020 has been – to put it politely – a complicated year. In a matter of months, we have gone from life as usual, into a quarantine and now into what we call the “new normal.” We wait with bated breath for word of the definitive cure that will make COVID a distant memory or, at the very least, a vaccine which allow us to throw our masks away and go back safely into crowds. For many, 2020 feels like a lost year- a step backward – and there is even data to support this belief. Year over year cancer screening rates are down as people stayed home. Childhood immunizations are also occurring at a lower rate than they have in the past several years. Despite all the challenges that this year has brought – and there have been many – it is appropriate to pause and reflect on the progress that we have made. The year is only 3/4s done and we have witnessed a decade’s work of achievement. The advances in science have been awesome to behold. We are now able to test on a mass scale for a virus that was unknown a year ago. We may not have a definitive therapy, but clinicians and scientists have worked hand and hand to refine the treatments we do have. COVID-19 today is less likely to kill a patient than it was six months ago. We have learned to do research on the fly, share knowledge widely and learn from both the successes and failures of others. As a community of providers, we are better than we were a year ago. We have learned to cooperate better. Because no one knew the best way to face a pandemic, we were forced to face it together. Practices supported one another in tough times and our hospitals, university and the entire community operated in a tight synergy. What we found is that, together we could provide better care than was ever imagined when we worked alone. Together – as a community – we could provide the care that our neighbors deserve. So yes, 2020 has brought us challenges that we never expected, but it will be remembered as a year marked by progress. It has been a year which has brought countless scientific breakthroughs and it has been a year which brought us closer together as a community. We can now build on this foundation to help Western New York fully recover from the pandemic and address challenges which have always been too big for any one of us to face alone.