HealthJune 19, 2020

Healthcare heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic

By: Brian Wu, MD, PhD

While “healthcare heroes” is a loaded phrase, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical roles a number of people and groups play.

When confronted with a daily barrage of bad news about the COVID-19 pandemic, it's easy to forget that this crisis has created some amazing healthcare heroes. Here are some of the individuals and organizations that have stepped up to help lead the fight against this virus.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci is the nation's leading epidemiologist. According to the New Yorker, he's led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 36 years, under six administrations and through many viral epidemics. In his work on the coronavirus task force, Dr. Fauci has prioritized doing what's necessary to save as many lives as possible. He has gained widespread public confidence, emerging as an important source of advice on combating this pandemic. Fauci's daily news appearances have argued for approaches based firmly on science, including social distancing, sheltering in place and reducing social activity to help slow the spread of the disease. His approach has been largely successful and a recent poll found that 78% of respondents approved of his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

State governors

Not all the healthcare heroes of this pandemic are strictly in healthcare. CNN reports that in reaction to the lack of a coordinated federal response to the crisis, governors across the country stepped up to take care of their respective states. Most called for a state shutdown (to a greater or lesser degree) and ordered the closing of public places like schools, churches and nonessential businesses as well as travel and assembly restrictions. They also fought to address the scarcity of personal protective equipment and other necessary supplies like ventilators. Although some were more successful at this than others, the public approved of their efforts (to the tune of 71% overall in a recent national poll).

The two most popular governors, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Andrew Cuomo of New York (with 86% and 81% approval ratings, respectively, according to CNN), both acted decisively to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. NPR reports that in New York, one of the hardest-hit areas in the country, Cuomo issued lockdown orders and supported the beleaguered healthcare system by increasing hospital capacity and garnering supplies for New York City. His daily press briefings to keep the public informed about the progress of the COVID-19 fight have gained him a national following.

Medecins sans frontières

Medecins sans frontières (or MSF - also known as Doctors without Borders) is a private international healthcare organization that provides medical care to some of the world's most distressed and underserved populations. Best known for its humanitarian work in war zones, MSF also cares for patients during both natural and man-made disasters.

The organization has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic in 70 countries. This includes the United States, where it serves vulnerable patient populations such as southwestern Native American communities, migrant workers and homeless people.

Every healthcare worker

While the above organizations and individuals have shined in the dark days of this pandemic, it's also important to remember the countless healthcare workers from all around the country and the world — nurses, doctors, aides, pharmacists — who have also put their personal health at risk to care for the victims of COVID-19. While these workers don't always make the news, their contributions are no less important to the fight against this virus.

Brian Wu, MD, PhD
Lippincott® Medicine
Lippincott is a leading international medical publisher of professional health information for practitioners, faculty, residents, students, and healthcare institutions with a full suite of essential medical products, from books and journals to digital solutions.
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