ACCORDS Update Spring 2019Mar 4, 2020
More in Spring 2019 Edition →
Dear friends and colleagues,
My time as director of ACCORDS has been the best part of my career. The opportunity to work with all of you and to build such a nurturing and collaborative research environment with your help has been a great privilege. I am stepping down at a time when ACCORDS is growing and flourishing and I’m confident this will continue.
The last quarter has seen continued reductions in the pandemic and a return to a “new normal” work environment where the majority of the ACCORDS workforce is working in a hybrid model. There are definite advantages to this mixed model for many, but I continue to be impressed by how important it is to interface with colleagues in person. It really energizes me and sparks great new ideas! Over time, I am seeing more of my ACCORDS colleagues spending more time on-site and am hopeful this trend will continue. Having meetings in person, conversations in the hallway and drop-in discussions throughout the day makes work so much more fun. I am so grateful that our community has remained so strong in the face of so many challenges during the past 3 years!
I ended our last quarterly report with the hope that spring would bring a new awakening. In many ways that has come true! The ACCORDS Center has moved to the third level of the beautiful new Anschutz Health Sciences Building. Although the pandemic has likely had the effect of permanently changing everyone’s work schedule to a hybrid model, many of us are now on-site a majority of the time! It is such a pleasure to be able to talk with one another face-to-face. I am so impressed by how quickly I can solve problems by just walking down the hall, rather than scheduling multiple zoom calls! I’m also re-experiencing how interfacing with colleagues informally sparks great new ideas and is so energizing! Hopefully, the relatively endemic state of COVID will continue so our on-site presence can continue to flourish.
The new year continues to bring challenges—and tragedy for some. As I think you all know, multiple CU colleagues lost their homes or are dealing with other impacts of the Marshall Fire. ACCORDS’ Investigator, Laura Scherer, PhD, and her family have been greatly impacted losing their business, their neighborhood, and most of their possessions in the fires. Several other members of our community were less directly impacted, but lost portions of their neighborhoods, with a significant impact on their lives. We are sending all who were affected our love and support.
Well, we’re back on the rollercoaster. After a brief period when the pandemic seemed to be dying down and our lives were opening back up, here we are again at the beginning of a surge. Almost all of my mentorship or co-investigator meetings in the past couple of weeks have focused predominately on how people are feeling and coping, rather than on research. There is a lot of discouragement, fatigue, and anger, especially given the fact that so much of what is happening could have been prevented! I have heard: “I feel like I’m juggling way too much,” “No one appreciates how hard I am working,” “How could we be back here again?” Those of you who are clinicians dealing directly with patients and those with children needing childcare or trying to get back to school are especially feeling the stress. I wish there was more that I could do as a Director and more that ACCORDS could do as a program right now to help each of you. If anyone has ideas about what might be helpful to the ACCORDS community, please send them my way!
I don’t know about all of you, but I am feeling more upbeat lately! I’ve been out to dinner, to a movie in a theater, and seeing friends and family. I know the pandemic is not over, but at least we’re starting to see real improvements related to vaccination.
Vaccinations are now available for 12-year olds and up, and vaccine trials are underway for younger children at Children’s Hospital Colorado and other centers around the country. A group of researchers at ACCORDS are working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to develop messaging aimed at increasing vaccination of young people and those in rural areas. As a physician scientist that has focused research on finding methods of improving immunization and other preventive care delivery and decreasing disparities in health and health care delivery, I hope you are vaccinated at this point. If anyone has worries about the vaccine, I’d be more than happy to discuss your concerns.
Looking out my office window, the weather seems to reflect the changeability and emotional rollercoaster of the current time. One day it looks like spring and the next it snows! Due to the rapid rate of vaccination, we seem to be on the cusp of COVID being behind us with hopes of soon being with friends and loved ones—while at the same time there are new COVID surges that make us fearful we will plunge back into the clinical nightmare many of us have lived this past year. While the buds are starting to come out, there is yet another mass shooting in Colorado, in a place where some of us were raised, went to school, or raised families. I remain so grateful to my ACCORDS colleagues for their support of one another and their energy and resolve to improve the health and quality of life for others. Our community continues to be very strong despite being physically distant at present. Thank you to all of you who keep the spirit of community alive at ACCORDS—with a special call out to the wellness committee! I am hopeful this summer or early fall we will be able to collaborate and celebrate in person at our current ACCORDS site prior to moving to the new building.
Autumn has begun, so hard to keep track of time. Still many pieces and parts rapidly moving as COVID-19 continues to evolve. I really miss seeing you all in conference rooms, the hallways, break rooms and stopping by to meet in your offices. Let's hope that will resume sometime in the near future!
Unreal. Surreal. Even these words seem deeply inadequate for the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and how it has transformed our lives. Many of us across campus are on the front lines, many called in to help, many feel helpless about how to contribute, and many having to rethink how we do our research during these difficult times. All of us collectively are focused on the fight to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.