Today’s theme is about focusing on our community

Today’s theme is about focusing on our community. Over the past several months, since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have talked about our obligation to serve the larger community. We all understand and recognize that as healthcare workers we are truly the final line that protects all of Western New York from the worst of this virus, but today I want to take a moment to focus on our more immediate community; the network of colleagues and co-workers without whom the great efforts of the past seven months would not have been possible. The pandemic has brought incalculable grief – we are now only weeks away from burying the 250,000 victim of this virus, but it has also highlighted moments of light and hope. For far too long, medicine has been a solo sport where success and failure were defined by individual metrics. The pandemic let us see this for the folly that it always was. Faced with the coronavirus, it was obvious that the efforts of no single person would be sufficient. If we did not work together and support one another, the region would suffer. It is to the eternal credit of all, that this is precisely what we did. Across Western New York, health care providers from every imaginable setting and every specialty came together to support the common effort. We succeeded because we worked together. Today we live in a strange netherworld. We are neither locked in the middle of a wave like we were in April nor truly able to return to normal, but this is what the world is likely to look like for a while so it is an ideal time to look back at lessons learned and prepare for the future. What worked? We came together. We recognized that as a community we are stronger together and, at the end of the day, we needed one another. Moving forward we need to work on building this understanding into our culture. In March, it was a group of strangers who came together to plan the response. Today we are friends. Each of us must continue to participate with and invest in our common community so that we can build on common success and move forward together. We learned that no one knew enough. We had to learn from each other. This is our chance to invest in teaching. Today’s first year medical student is seven years from being an attending physician and it is not impossible to imagine that they will be faced with this virus throughout their entire training. We must invest in them so that they are ready to start when their time to lead comes. We must also invest in our colleagues. We must share what we know and take the time to learn from others. The pandemic has taught us a lot, but perhaps nothing is quite as important as the role that our colleagues play in our own success. There is a path forward through COVID-19 and all the other challenges we face, but it is only a path that can be found when we work together.