The Power of Collaboration
Working together to forge our post-pandemic future
E. Blair Holladay | | Opinion
We are about to turn the page on a new year. The next 12 months are as yet unwritten, but we all have hope that they will be far less tumultuous than the previous ones have been. Despite the upheaval of 2020, we can’t forget that it was also full of opportunity – for learning, for change, and for understanding. Of the many lessons we can take away from this past year, I think one of the most important ones is the power that lies in collaboration.
When COVID-19 started spreading wildly across the US, as a nation, we were ill-prepared. We knew nothing about SARS-CoV-2 and we had to learn while simultaneously dealing with daily issues like dwindling supplies and decreased staff as testing ramped up across the country. The spring of 2020 was not an easy time for laboratories – and the fall proved even more challenging as another wave of the virus took hold.
From the beginning, as pathologists and medical laboratory scientists worked behind the scenes to flatten the curve, they also stepped into the spotlight to break down myths and misconceptions about COVID-19. Colleagues from one side of the country to the other shared insight and research. Pathologists and medical laboratory scientists worked closely with clinicians to help patients understand why precautionary measures are so important. For patients who became severely ill, the laboratory partnered with clinicians to trial new processes to ameliorate symptoms and help people recover faster – safely.
At ASCP we, too, embraced collaboration to help our peers and members navigate the ever-changing pandemic environment. Over the past year, we’ve worked with experts in pathology and laboratory medicine to develop content and education that benefits practice today and will provide guidance for tomorrow. We’ve partnered with multiple organizations, including the American Medical Association, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, AABB, the Association of Public Health Laboratories, and others to advance elements of our national testing strategy, enhance the blood supply, and promote the right test at the right time. We’ve fostered strong bidirectional communication with the White House as well as government agencies like Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and now the Biden transition team to ensure patients get the care they need throughout the pandemic. We have launched new ways for pathologists and medical laboratory scientists to engage with the latest research and resources, from live Town Hall events featuring subject matter experts to educational modules that help our colleagues better understand best practices when dealing with surging cases of COVID-19.
We’ve all been asked to do a lot over the past year, whether in the form of additional job duties, leadership tasks, or simply managing the day-to-day pressures of living and working in a high-stress environment. As pathology and medical laboratory professionals, we have gone above and beyond what has been asked of us – but we haven’t done it alone. We’ve come together, we’ve supported each other, and we’ve set ourselves up for success that will sustain us through the end of this pandemic and into new beginnings.
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