I know that the daily barrage of news and information about the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has made a challenging environment for all of us to make decisions on how to respond both at work and at home.
I want to reassure all of our patients, visitors, caregivers and the communities we serve that our UMass Memorial Health Care system-wide task force is working diligently on our response to any further escalation of COVID-19. With all of this information – and sometimes conflicting information since the situation keeps evolving – I want to offer a few things to keep in mind:
- Stay Informed: Because we keep learning more about the virus and how it is spreading, the facts keep changing. I encourage you to only get information from trusted sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. We also have information on the UMass Memorial Health Care website that outlines our response and recommendations.
- Stay Calm: I know this is hard when news reports sound dire. The vast majority of those who get COVID-19 won’t be sick enough to warrant hospitalization. But it is important that we stay calm and stick to the facts as we know them. I am confident in the sound judgment of our leaders at UMass Memorial who are taking the most appropriate actions with the information that they have, working closely with local and state authorities to make the right decisions for our patients.
- Stay Safe: We are advising our employees to take extra precautions so that they can stay safe from the spread of COVID-19, particularly when caring for those who are most at risk for getting seriously ill from the virus. We have a higher responsibility than most to protect ourselves because we are a critical resource for the communities we serve. We encourage everyone in our community to practice good hand hygiene and use other precautions recommended by the CDC and other health officials as needed.
- Be Kind: When it gets stressful, that’s when it is harder to keep your cool or easy to lose your patience with others. But it is times like this that it is even more important to be kind to one another and show even more compassion and empathy for our friends, loved ones, colleagues and even strangers who might be scared or anxious.
- Call Your Mom: The elderly and those with a chronic illness are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill. As caregivers, we should do all we can to protect this vulnerable population. And as concerned family members, we should check on our elderly relatives to make sure they are okay and keep people with any signs of a respiratory tract infection away from them. I’m calling my 83-year-old mother every day to check on her, make sure she has what she needs and advise her to stay out of grocery stores and shopping malls until we have this situation under control.
I know an incredible amount of work is being done across UMass Memorial Health Care to make sure we are as prepared as we possibly can be to continue to serve our patients and the general public through this evolving situation.