To 2021 - Happy New Year

Today’s EM-critical care post isn’t about a new study or a tip or trick, but a chance to look backward and forward. There is no language to capture what the EM and EM/CCM collectively went through this year.  In January and February, we heard inklings of a new respiratory disease that seemed to be virulent and difficult to control.  By Spring, many of us were battling local outbreaks that smoldered over Summer and exploded in Fall and Winter.  In most hospitals, visitors were kept out. Still, it felt like the world got the peek in through news stories of experimental therapies, discussion of shortages of ventilators and ICU beds, and first-person accounts of what it was like to be a patient and caregiver.  We got to see the best of science through global collaboration. Initially, with shared experiences and then through multinational studies.  We saw vaccinations, built on decades of prior knowledge and understanding of viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2, developed within months.  We dealt with ignorance when faced with individuals who contended necessary public health measures should be disregarded.  Worse still, they denied the very existence of the disease, the threat it represented, and the tragedy it meant in the lives of so many.  The healthcare community lost caregivers - some of whom died in the same institutions they served.  Grieving with families wasn’t at the bedside but over FaceTime.  Despite the distance, it felt much rawer and harsher.


In January 2020, we didn’t know what was headed our way.  But in January 2021, despite the ongoing rise in case numbers, the vaccine allows us to starve the fire of fuel.  Instead of donning PPE and hoping for efficacy (and thank goodness it mostly was), the body prepares to face the virus too.  Despite so many losses, I hope we can keep some of the gains.  Many of us adapted education to overcome space and time.  2020 laid bare long-standing structural inequities in society and healthcare.  We must keep our motivation to continue pushing for systemic change.  Prior relationships rapidly developed into research and collaboration networks that we should continue to foster.  Finally, despite the hospital’s lightning speed and frenetic energy, the world seemed to slow down outside, bringing life’s priorities into better focus.


And so, I hope 2021 brings quick vaccinations, authentic education, constant motivation towards justice, and more real connections between each other as professionals and friends.  Happy new year.