The year 2020 brought new challenges that few of us anticipated and none of us want to relive. I deeply admire the many ways you not only overcame these challenges, but adapted to improve the care of children in the midst of crisis.
Unquestionably, with determination, innovation, and focus, you have saved lives.
As the articles in this annual report show, you adapted to the COVID-19 outbreak with telemedicine and house calls — or more accurately, driveway visits. You diagnosed, treated, and vaccinated children in parking lots. You found new ways to reassure families. And you monitored and treated mental health conditions brought about by the stress of disease, social unrest, isolation, boredom, and natural disasters.
I do not want to minimize the pain that has come with making these changes. Closed practices, inadequate protective equipment, reduced salaries, furloughed colleagues, and delayed or missed well-child care were all too common in 2020. Many of you risked your own mental and physical health looking after patients and families.
COVID-19 also exposed profound weaknesses in our medical system that were known to many, but amplified by the pandemic — specifically, pervasive health care inequities. Especially concerning were reports that by the end of July, 74% of the children in the United States who died from COVID-19 were Black or Hispanic.1
Then, while COVID-19 sparked a greater awareness of health care inequities, George Floyd’s death in May illuminated systemic racism and inspired widespread commitments to change.
Despite the rapid change that was thrust upon us all in 2020, pediatricians have demonstrated our profession’s highest ideals that will surely carry on into 2021.
I am optimistic that, together, we are adapting not just to survive this pandemic, but innovating in ways that will make the future healthier for everyone.
David G. Nichols, MD, MBA
President and CEO
1Jenco M. CDC: 74% of children who died from SARS-CoV-2 are Hispanic, Black. AAP News. Sept. 15, 2020. https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/09/15/pediatriccoviddeaths091520. Accessed Dec. 31, 2020.
Photo: Dr. Nichols in his home office