Tough Times, Signs of Strength

Last week was busy, like most have been since the pandemic arrived almost a year ago. In Vermont we worked hard to continue vaccinating the general public. Hospitals, physicians and public health officials closely monitored counties where case counts have been high or growing. 
We also saw some snow, but nothing worrisome or out of the ordinary for our state. In other parts of the country, however, unusual snow and ice presented instant and dangerous challenges. 
As people in Texas struggled for power and water, hospitals too faced difficult, if not dire, circumstances.
From the Washington Post: 
“In a stretch of Southeast Texas from Houston to Corpus Christi, 45 of roughly 100 hospitals declared an ‘internal disaster’ status Wednesday night to dissuade emergency medical crews from taking patients to them. The area is home to about 8 million people.”
At Houston Methodist Hospital, according to the Post, staff members used a “swiftly rigged system to sluice rainwater from the roof into a large laundry bin, then used it to fill buckets and flush toilets.”
Since the onset of COVID-19, we have become accustomed to seeing problems and finding fixes. Hospitals have all but moved mountains to respond to the pandemic in real time while also creating a safe space for urgent, emergent and routine health care.
Non-pandemic emergencies and problems did not take a break to accommodate COVID. Here in Vermont, a massive cyberattack hit our academic medical center, and the mental health and opioid addiction crises continue. Parts of the country have managed civil unrest and violence. Now, our friends in Texas and other states are working through rare storms, severe cold, power outages and water shortages. 
Hospital leaders there are doing everything they can to keep their facilities running and their patients safe. And, thankfully, they are not alone. This headline from the Texas Hospital Association’s daily newsletter, caught my eye: “Texas Restaurants Offer Food to Hospitals.” The article included a link to sign up for assistance and coordination. 
Restaurants hit hard by the pandemic still stand ready to help fuel hospitals through the tough winter. Here at home, they’ve similarly been stepping up since last March. It is encouraging to see people in Texas and elsewhere working together to fill gaps, meet need and deliver care—whether it be a hot meal, a hospital bed, a vaccine vial or a home health visit.
igns of pain and suffering are all around us, but so too are signs strength and perseverance. We just need to keep looking for those. And help create them. Have a good week.