|Dear friends and neighbors,|
We’re well into the new year, and the fresh start we were hoping for was delayed by our struggles with the COVID-19 omicron variant. As I reflect on the past several weeks as our inpatient COVID numbers finally trend down, I am proud of the way we’ve come together to support each other through another challenging surge. With hope and optimism ahead, I’d like to provide a look into what's happening at UVA Health.
Please help our health care workforce be there for you and your family:
We recently joined forces with Augusta Health for #stopthebreakingpoint, a public education campaign asking our communities to do their part and get vaccinated or boosted and wear masks. Simply put, severe COVID-19 is largely preventable through vaccination and boosting; most of our hospitalized and seriously ill COVID patients at UVA Medical Center are not vaccinated. If you’re only mildly ill or in need of COVID testing, we ask that you seek care with your physician or at an urgent care facility or a testing site so that we can keep our Emergency Department available for those who have serious acute illness. To relieve the pressures of testing shortages, we continue to support free community testing sites. I’m grateful for our ongoing partnership with Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church and Church of the Incarnation, who in partnership with UVA Health, provide this service to those who need it most.
We’re more committed than ever to expanding access to our exceptional care:
We’ve hired 733 new team members since we announced our vaccine requirement in the fall, including the recruitment of over 100 new physicians and research faculty in 2021. There are ongoing efforts to expand our physician workforce with top-caliber doctors from across the nation. We are currently recruiting for an additional 153 roles ranging from primary care to transplant surgery. We are also making progress on a system-wide effort to improve patient scheduling and access. Our goal is to have a consistent process where patients can easily make appointments and have access to the health care they need in a timely way. At each step in this process, we seek to place the patient at the center of everything we do.
Our patients and caregivers continually inspire us:
Earlier this month, at a health system-wide town hall, our team was inspired to hear from two of our grateful patients and their care teams. First was RJ Redstrom, who, after battling COVID-19, lost his lung function and was saved with a double lung transplant. Other centers in Virginia were hesitant to take on his case. He received a successful lung transplant at UVA Health, one of the first in the country for COVID, and has been able to continue his active lifestyle. Next was Jen Stiffler, the mother of two daughters born with congenital heart defects. Jen chose UVA Children’s when her daughters needed more advanced care than their nearby community hospital could provide. I encourage you to review the links and hear their stories. They are a powerful reminder of why our caregivers at UVA Health do what they do and of the impact their exceptional care has on our patients’ lives.
We're reaffirming our commitment to health equity and equality:
We're fortunate to have at UVA Health strong advocates of diversity, leaders in health equity, and a leadership team devoted to an inclusive and respectful environment for training and patient care. February is Black History Month — this year's theme is "Black Health and Wellness" — and many fantastic events were hosted by our UVA Health colleagues and some of the nation's leaders in the health equity field. One more event is ahead — a presentation about "UVA History: From a Black Perspective," an interactive timeline created by one of our medical school students. We invite you to join us as we come together as One UVA Health to uplift and understand the importance of our own history during Black History Month.
Wishing you and your loved ones health and happiness,
K. Craig Kent, MD
Chief Executive Officer, UVA Health