Preparedness

We cannot know exactly what will happen in the weeks and months to come. Every day is filled with new information. None of us has the answers or the ability to see the future. Right now, our best way forward is to prepare. We prepare for best-case scenarios and for worst-case scenarios and for everything in between. These are our efforts in progress:

We prepare to keep people safe. We have a number of programs working to ensure adequate personal protective equipment is available for caregivers treating COVID-19 patients. Several mask efforts are underway, including novel use of materialsinnovative designs, and testing the safety of usage and sterilization practices to extend the useful life of existing equipment. The use of televisits has increased dramatically to reduce face-to-face contact. Our Grand Rounds, like the April 9 on COVID19 response and April 10 on resilience, have gone virtual to limit personal exposure.

We prepare to treat patients. We are designing care decision models, ventilators, and new care models like Bethesda HospitalClinical trials, made possible by the superlative efforts of our researchers, clinical and regulatory staff, are in progress to find better therapies. QVentus modeling is being used to predict the “surge” at facilities across the state. M Health Fairview has launched GetWell Loop, a virtual platform that both allows physicians to remotely monitor daily symptoms of patients with presumed-COVID-19 and collect data on disease progression.

We prepare to keep people mentally and emotionally healthy. Experts in dealing with crisis situations are putting programs like Battle Buddies, a peer-support program designed to ensure connections between caregivers and help them be resilient in the face of current stressors. Zoom meeting body self-care programs are offered by the UMN Integrative Psychiatry and Wellness team every Thursday from noon to 1:00 PM via a Zoom link.

We prepare to provide the next generation of medical caregivers. We want to ensure that our students graduate on time with required credits, experience, and competencies. This would not be possible without the incredible efforts we are seeing from our faculty, staff, and students. Eleven COVID-19-related telehealth electives have already been launched. We will continue with daily analysis of risk, pandemic progression, and public policy to carefully determine when our students can safely return to the clinical environment.

We prepare our response so that we can moderate the impact COVID-19 will have on the world in the future. Three critical factors in controlling this pandemic are disease testing (testing laboratory was assembled in the Biodiscovery District), superb clinical care (in the system and in community), and vaccine development (antibody testing is currently being verified by augmenting diagnostic testing). To help focus the research of our community at this time, Drs. Brad Benson, Josh Rhein, and others have created Evidenced Based COVID-19, a website and resource that compiles all potential treatments with a full evidence set, complete with grading. This is a great example of our rapid learning health system work in action.

Medical School faculty, staff, and students have been incredibly adaptive, creative, and driven in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a time of stress, but it should also be a time of confidence, gratitude, and pride. People will always be our most important resource. I am grateful for all you are doing, and proud of the incredible efforts and accomplishments to date. Thank you!

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