The current pandemic helps us all appreciate how fortunate we are to live in a country with dedicated, capable, and hardworking medical professionals. You might think this is a strange message coming from a firm handling medical malpractice cases; however, our experience has taught us that our medical community is largely made up of committed individuals who entered the healthcare field to make a true and positive difference for their patients. The cases we manage are typically outliers rather than the norm.
Recent events have led to an unprecedented demand on our healthcare system, as well as extraordinary demands of our nation’s people and businesses. This may be the first time we are all seeing and sharing the daily challenges our medical community is facing as they care for a rapidly increasing patient population with urgent medical care needs. While most of us can stay home, the nurses, physicians, and support staff don’t have that luxury. They are on the front lines daily, putting their own health and the health of their families at risk to ensure people who need medical care are well taken care of. That deserves everyone’s appreciation and recognition.
It has surprised many of us that our hospital and medical equipment resources are a key concern. We hear of critical shortages every day — respirators, medication, tests, and even basic protective gear such as medical masks. The ability to simply admit patients to the hospital has also been impacted due to bed space limitations. Medical providers are also overwhelmed, stretched thin, and mentally and physically exhausted treating an overwhelming number of patients infected with a novel virus having varying and different degrees of symptoms. In light of all this, we ask what will be the impact on the quality of care they can continue to provide? While we expect the medical community to take care of us, who takes care of them?
It reminds us that everyone needs a strong advocate to support and help them in times of need. Our medical community can’t go it alone. Fortunately, as gaps have been identified, people and businesses are stepping in. 3M, a manufacturer of N95 surgical masks has doubled their production globally to nearly a 100 million a month. 3M is also producing 35 million respirators with 90% designated for healthcare workers. A dinner-table conversation between a husband and wife in Ohio led to the usage of technology that is able to decontaminate up to 80,000 N95 masks per day, now being delivered to hospitals throughout the country, with Massachusetts being among the first.
Governmental and civilian agencies and industries are also looking at ways to innovatively support health needs. Examples are the Michigan brewery who has teamed up with a distillery to make hand sanitizer and auto manufacturers who are exploring converting their production facilities to making respirators. These are just a sample of the many positive steps being taken, and that is encouraging.
We know that there will be an end to this extraordinary chapter in our collective history. That said, just as with the clients we represent, we sincerely hope the lessons we’re learning along the way aren’t forgotten. Yes, overall, we do have an impressive and capable medical community. But while we lean heavily on those professionals and resources during this time, we need to acknowledge the advocacy and resources they need to be effective, especially in the face of heightened demand. Taking what we are learning and putting better and more integrated planning and responses in place for our next challenge will help ensure our medical community is stronger and more prepared. That benefits us all.