Vineet Chopra, MD, MSc, Robert W. Schrier Chair of Medicine COVID-19 Communications
Dear DOM Colleagues,
First, I want to begin by wishing you all a Happy New Year as we enter 2022. I can only hope that it is better than what we experienced in 2021 — which was better than 2020.
We are still in the clutches of the COVID pandemic. This morning, we have 105 patients hospitalized with COVID at AMC (up from 70 on 12/26). To the extent that we know, almost all of these patients have the genetic fingerprint of the omicron variant and consistent with our trend, the majority are unvaccinated. However, 2022 does promise some relief in the following key ways:
New antivirals recently approved under EUA by the FDA are entering our pipeline and can “arrest” COVID if taken early enough in the course of disease;
The protection from booster shots continues to endure with Omicron (so if you haven’t yet received this, there is no better time than now);
We continue to innovate new care delivery protocols, including step up/step down care in the hospital, the use of outpatient remdesivir, and care at home pathways;
Our continued use of face masks, awareness of the importance of physical distancing and mindfulness of hand washing and crowding in confined spaces has helped lower burden of disease
All this said, I do expect January and February to be challenging due to the transmissibility of Omicron. Of particular concern to me is the potential impact of illness on our healthcare work force, which will further constrain our ability to provide care for patients. Therefore, please continue to use appropriate PPE when in the hospital and in patient care activities off site, monitor for signs and symptoms, seek testing if you feel unwell and reach out for support to employee health. If you do test positive, please follow all guidance in terms of isolation precautions, quarantine and safety measures. It is vital we do our part to keep each other safe.
This continued surge will test all of our resolve, resilience and strength. I know we are tired and disruptions to care from worker illness will be challenging. I ask for your patience and understanding if this does happen in your clinical area. There are silver linings in terms of what may lie ahead with herd immunity and where Omicron may take us - so please keep your eyes to the horizon and forward looking.
We will be holding a special COVID town-hall with national and international speakers on the Omicron variant and current state of affairs this month. Please look for announcements and details over the next few days.
Thank you for everything you do each day and every day. We have come a long way since 2020 and much as I wish for this to be behind us, I know will get through this together.
Vineet Chopra, MD, MSc Robert W. Schrier Chair of Medicine Professor of Medicine Department of Medicine University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus 12631 E 17th Avenue, Aurora, CO 80045 | Mail Stop B178 E: email@example.com
I wanted to update you on the COVID surge in our community and our coverage strategy for the months ahead.
As you are likely aware, we continue to care for growing volumes of patients with COVID in our intensive care units and on the floors. This trend does not look like it will let up soon. As difficult as this time is, I want you all to know that I am proud of the collaborative efforts across our Department, School and Hospital. I know many of you have been integrally involved in these efforts for months. Please know that I am grateful for your dedication to our patients and our community.
Leaders in the Department of Medicine continue to work on building robust staffing plans anticipating what lies ahead. Divisions in the DOM are building layers of support in the form of three backup teams for our ward teaching teams. These teams will allow us to expand coverage for our COVID teams on the floor, step-down, and ICU. Your Division leaders will be communicating with you to ask for your assistance in covering these backup teams. If you see these calls for assistance, please know the need is real. If you can sign up to cover for a few days, please do - we are in need of all the help we can get.
I recognize these asks are extremely disruptive to your routine and workflow. To minimize impact, I have asked that we proactively schedule these backup teams in advance (now spanning most of January 2022). By looking ahead and finding coverage for specific dates, I hope we can maximize continuity for our patients and learners and reduce the burden on each of you. If our needs increase, we may have to send additional calls for help beyond the Division blocks that have already been assigned. I sincerely hope this does not happen - but you should know that we are planning and preparing for all possibilities.
As dark as this period may be and as difficult as this email is to write, please know that I will always keep you informed as the surge continues. I am confident we will rise to this challenge as a Department, and look forward to seeing many of you on the wards in the months ahead.
As always, do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns, or ideas.