This has been a difficult year in healthcare, politics, the economy, and for our planet. After a grinding year of our community trying to address the pandemic and health inequities and maintaining our own well-being, we set our sights on the coming year. We also want to acknowledge that there are many wonderful accomplishments to celebrate in 2020, especially on behalf of our remarkable UCSF community at ZSFG.
Starting in March, clinical faculty and staff mobilized their resources to accommodate and prepare for an increase in visits, hospitalizations and surges as we maintained our trauma services and continued to provide care for our most vulnerable populations. Outpatient services quickly adapted to telemedicine. ZSFG Psychiatry faculty contributed to UCSF’s vast, online well-being and mental health services. And notably, two of our own, Eric Goosby and Robert Rodriguez, were named to President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board.
Many researchers pivoted immediately to study COVID-19 clinical best practices, therapeutic agents, prevention and management, provider well-being and the impact of the disease on vulnerable populations. Testing, especially in our own communities, led to important information for our patients and community. Other researchers adapted their operations to continue critical work in non-COVID-19 areas, despite restrictions on lab density and clinical research. Many of our studies attracted national attention and our top-notch clinical researchers were consistently approached to provide health guidance to media.
ZSFG faculty won numerous teaching awards in 2020. Students, diverted from standard training, quickly figured out how to make themselves useful, writing and translating information about COVID-19 and procuring and distributing PPE and laptops for patients and families to use for virtual meetings. UCSF expanded courses on how to be an anti-racist scientist or clinician and we continued to address the social and health inequities of our patients through our curriculum, research and new policies.
Administrative staff stepped up heroically to accommodate the challenges of working remotely and supporting those who needed to work onsite, adding safety precautions and finding creative ways to engage their departments virtually. Chiefs, managers and finance staff struggled to deal with University budget restrictions and anticipated reductions while keeping our operations robust.
There are many reasons to believe we are turning the corner. Hopefully, we are nearing the end of the frightening winter surge. Since mid-December, UCSF and DPH combined efforts to vaccinate both clinical and non-clinical employees and we have begun vaccinating our patients. This is remarkable in that only a couple of months ago, we didn't know if we would have an effective vaccine.
In addition, we have made great strides in the construction of the UCSF Research and Academic Building at ZSFG. After the delays related to the pandemic, construction has moved forward at an impressive clip. Other Dean’s Office initiatives include the launching of our first ZSFG-based Net Promoter Score survey. Starr Knight became the inaugural Director of Faculty Experience at ZSFG.
When I reflect on how you met these challenging times and, as a result, made great improvements to clinical care, research, teaching and serving our community, I couldn't be prouder. UCSF and ZSFG's privilege and obligation to serve the public provides the focus we need to persist. Despite the recent violence in our Capitol, we remain optimistic and recognize that we have much to celebrate and anticipate. Tomorrow (and my grandmother would say “If God be willing and the Creek don’t rise”) we will witness the inauguration of our 46th President, Joseph Biden and Vice President, Kamala Harris. As we celebrated MLK, Jr Day yesterday, I reflected on how proud he would be of our new Vice President.
I wish you a peaceful, healthy, productive New Year.
A. Sue Carlisle, PhD, MD
UCSF School of Medicine, ZSFG
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -