June 22nd, 2020

Hindsight, or informed requests

What have you learned from the frontlines of fighting the coronavirus that you most want policy makers, health care administrators and your bosses to know? If you were in charge, what is the first thing you would change to ensure we never go through this again?

A pandemic shines painful, sharp light on the limitations of both our nation's business-model of healthcare delivery, and our global supply chain. Preparation saves lives, but it's expensive. Yet scrambling to keep staff safe when supply chains have collapsed is more expensive. We have an ethical duty to plan as a nation for the next pandemic. I would hope this would involve cost analysis, better informed data on stockpiles of PPE, medications, durable medical equipment like ventilators, and human resources. Do we need to create a federal reserve medical corps similar to the national guard? I also hope we evaluate our supply chain model, in which items are sourced from a single or two origins. We cannot in the future be reactive in asking auto makers to assist in manufacturing medical equipment 8 weeks into a pandemic. We need to know how to mobilize before it's necessary.
Finally, this pandemic has illustrated how desperately we need to fund basic research and invest in STEM education. Having the scientific infrastructure to move quickly on emerging pathogens for vaccine and therapies is not only essential to our economic viability, our existence depends on it.

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