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In reflecting on the ways COVID-19 has limited us — our movements, our work, our interactions — it’s easy to overlook the flood of innovation and creativity our response to the virus has unlocked within UW Medicine. While we can feel stuck sometimes thinking about what we have lost, we want to take a moment to appreciate the incredible creativity and ingenuity of our community. Every day, in the face of adversity, individuals and teams have come together to tackle a myriad of challenges:

  • Under the pressure of personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, figuring out how to 3D print face shields and make our own hand sanitizer to keep people safer.
  • Rapidly creating dedicated COVID-19 ICUs and medical surge units.
  • Leveraging telemedicine to support our patients while keeping them at home with roughly 40,000 telemedicine visits by May 9.
  • Recreating Harborview Hall and deploying testing vans around our city to support our most vulnerable community members.
  • Setting up drive-thu testing clinics and home assessment teams for employees and patients.
  • Creating the website to educate and empower our community and share our learnings with others.
  • Developing COVID-19 PCR and antibody tests, and most recently, identifying an antibody that neutralizes coronaviruses.

Our response to the pandemic will continue to challenge us across so many domains. Our creativity and flexible thinking, however, will allow us to respond in ways that will have a local and global impact on our future as we build toward a brighter new normal.

As we continue this journey, remember the importance of taking care of yourselves so that you can sustain your well-being for the long haul. Since we are all in this together, we have reconfigured our spring faculty development day into an UW Medicine-wide Well-Being Day next Tuesday. Sessions will be open to all — please join us if you are able.

UW Medicine Well-Being Day: Tuesday May 26, 1-4 p.m., PDT, register here

As we experience the collective challenge of COVID-19 and its repercussions on our communities, we want to take time to focus on our common humanity. While much remains out of our control in this landscape, our three presenters will share insights on how to leverage the choices we do have to improve our well-being. Join us for three 45-minute sessions during our first UW Medicine Well-Being Day.

1-1:15 p.m. Drs. Anne Browning and Trish Kritek: Welcome and Introductions

1:15-2 p.m. Dr. Elizabeth Lin: Being with What Is: Choosing to Survive and Even Thrive Using Awareness and Self-Kindness

2:15-3 p.m. Dr. David Levy: Mindful Tech and Media Consumption in Stressful Times

3:15-4 p.m. Dr. Tony Back: Building a Culture of Psychological Safety for All

Each phase of COVID-19 creates new uncertainties and challenges. We wanted to remind you of several supports we have in place to help you and your families.

  • Our UW Medicine Care & Share website has expanded. As we increase clinical activity, more employees will need access to child care and other resources from our community. Care & Share now offers the opportunity to post what you need from the community and people can respond directly to you with offers to help.
  • Mental Health Matters: Seek out and refer others to peer support, our Department of Psychiatry’s supportive conversations, and community mental health resources on our well-being and support website.
  • We had about 1,400 employees join us live for last week’s Town Hall. Especially during these times of uncertainty and frustration, please continue to share your questions and concerns with us for our Friday 3 p.m. Town Hall. Your questions help us shape the supports we develop and ways in which we can advocate for each other.

Our community continues to stand with us during this challenging time and continues to share their gratitude and support for our well-being:

Thank you for your selflessness, compassion and incredible bravery. When I look for light during this time, I simply have to look at you all. Words are not enough — but you will be remembered for our lifetimes as the ones who kept the world turning, and who gave us hope. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

From Jewel Evenson

Our response to COVID-19 has been one of collaborations and thinking outside the box. The solutions to the problems that have emerged as ripple effects of the pandemic have been driven by our collective input from voices far and wide. We know how much we will need to leverage our collective wisdom in the days and months ahead. Thank you for your flexibility, thoughtfulness and continued support of one another while we stay focused on the common goal of recovery and rebuilding together.