A message from WIAAP President, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria:

Dear Colleagues,

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote; in COVID-time, that means it feels like it’s been at least 8 months. Since my last missive, it appears that Wisconsin has dodged a meltdown of our inpatient facilities, and has now pivoted from what I think we can term “survival” to “recovery”.

I’ll take a moment to note that this is a stark, stark highlighting of how much of a difference public health measures make — and of the importance the clear, responsible communication of those approaches to the public matters. Our health systems would do well to invest in skilled writers, graphic designers, and others to participate in these efforts, don’t you think? While we do not have any of those at our small-but-mighty Chapter, we do a pretty reasonable job with the resources we do have, and through repeated collaboration and partnership with our valued friends in all this work.

So now: to recovery. There is still a long road ahead of us in terms of continuing to corral this virus, and ensure that it does not do additional damage beyond what it has already wrought. The science is really clear that we can’t lift our control measures too quickly. We may have made remarkable strides in our testing capacity — I have to say I’m stunned at how well we’ve done in that arena, although it could have been even faster, as some other countries have shown us — but we’re not yet at having meaningful, reasonably predictive assessments of immunity, and even further away from a vaccine.

Having said that, the figurative light at the end of the tunnel is visible. Most health care systems, hospitals, and clinics are now thinking about how to retract carefully thankfully-unneeded disaster preparedness, restore delayed care, and return to a path towards some sense of normalcy.

But do we really want to return to “normal”? I think we’d definitely like to see some big parts of “normal” to reappear in our collective lives. Seeing our patients without layers of PPE, handing young children books as part of an absolutely routine well-child visit, and being able to stand near our colleagues in thriving workspaces again would be lovely. Yet, there are parts of the modern business of health care that I’d like to do without: relentless documentation burdens, a lack of flexibility in how and where we can practice medicine to serve our patients’ needs best, strong and entrenched biases in what types of care are compensated for, and a focus on financial performance rather than the health and well-being of our communities.

It’s okay to want to return to normal. It’s also okay to want a better normal, a stronger normal, a more just normal. COVID-19 is bending us, but it’s not breaking us. And in that post-flexed moment that is soon upon us, we have an opportunity to not just spring back to how we were, but to arc further into transformation towards that better vision.

That’s where your Wisconsin Chapter would like your help. We’ve created an online form where you can share with us your thoughts, large and small, about what has worked, what hasn’t worked, and what we can learn to make the lives of children and families — and of those who dedicate their careers to helping them — better. It doesn’t have to be profound, or large — but nor does it have to be tiny. It could be about a way of scheduling appointments, or of triaging patients. It could be about exchanging information with inpatient colleagues and specialists. It could be about policy and legislation.

Help us out, because we’d like to take your thoughts and use it to forge a vision of a better future of Wisconsin’s children in the days, weeks, months, and years that lay ahead.

We value you, we see you, and we want to amplify you, because you matter.