President’s Message

Posted on Dec 1, 2021 in President's Message | 0 comments

I hope everyone had a restful Thanksgiving. I was working most of the week through the holiday and weekend, so I sent my family down to LA to be with grandparents. I figured they would have more fun there rather than dealing with my usual work-related fatigue and grumbling.

The emergency department was humming with activity. Thanksgiving and the days before and after will bring an interesting mix of patients, those with nowhere else to be, those who have held out on acute issues to be with family and friends, only to have those problems escalate to the more serious, and those who have perhaps overindulged and are paying the price.

I had finished taking care of a patient, with an uncomplicated diagnosis and treatment plan, and she took the time to say to me, “thank you for all you do.” I felt heartened, thanked her for being such a nice patient, and in the spirit of things, catalogued some of the things that I should be thankful for.

I have a job – it’s not easy, but there a plenty of folks out there who are supremely dissatisfied with their jobs and have left the workforce altogether.

I have my family – they are all doing well, bar the occasional mishaps and whining (especially from the four-legged variety) and are mostly in good spirits.

I have my health – sure, my hair is getting gray, my midsection is flabbier, I think I’m shrinking in height, but all in all, not too many serious medical issues (that I’m aware of).

I have great friends and coworkers – doctors and nurses can be a tempestuous bunch, but I am continually impressed how hard everybody works to help each other and do the right thing for patients.

I have relative financial security –I still owe mortgage to the bank, but I am dutifully saving for retirement and my kids’ higher education. I live simply – aside from a sordid collection of bicycles. All the things I need (even if they are not all the things that I want) I can pay for.

These are a few of things that I am thankful for, and I encourage you to think along these lines during the holidays. Many of our patients are not so lucky.

Omicron is coming.  This particular variant is notable for having multiple mutations within the spike protein that may evade our current vaccines. Already, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna are signaling that they will likely be developing new vaccines to address the latest variant.  Last month, I was hopeful that we were through the worst of it, that we would soon be in the endemic phase of this COVID nightmare, but perhaps that was too wishful. Europe is going through its fourth major wave of infections, lockdowns are once again being imposed. Global vaccine equity is the key here – while most developed countries have vaccinated 50-70% of their population, the African continent has only vaccinated 7% of the population. Complacency in adequately vaccinating developing countries has fostered an environment rich for mutation.

With that somber note, I wish you all a peaceful winter holiday. Take stock of everything that you are thankful for, and spread some gratitude to your colleagues and patients.

Jeff Chen MD, MPH, FACEP
Chief of Staff, ABSMC Summit Campus

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