The time to purchase the fire extinguisher is not when the house is ablaze. But, we are now seeing the frightening ramifications of our failure to properly invest in our public health infrastructure.
And our house is, indeed, ablaze. We’re experiencing critical shortages of personal protective equipment, medical equipment, and testing equipment. The supply chain is not effectively delivering what we need to fight the COVID-19 epidemic. Policies on social distancing vary from state-to-state — and, in some places, county to county.
Congress recently passed a stimulus package that includes $4.3 billion to carry out critical response activities related to COVID-19. The funds are desperately needed. But supplemental funding after a crisis cannot make up for the years we chipped away at our public health infrastructure.
At the Quality Institute, we signed onto a letter from the Trust for America’s Health with other national health care entities requesting that, as a nation, we make a significant, long-term commitment to support and modernize our public health infrastructure. We need to be ready to battle — or perhaps even prevent — the next pandemic. We must think more broadly about equitable health resource planning and improvement throughout our communities.
We’re calling on our members to tell their elected representatives we need better preparedness. The needs will not end when this pandemic finally does. Good public health must also address issues, such as our aging population and the many disparities we sadly now see. The leader of one of our members, Steven Landers, M.D., MPH, president & CEO of VNA Health Group, outlines this need very well in an oped published on NJ.com. We welcome more voices to add to this choir.
Finally, to all of our health care provider members, we are grateful for all you do everyday. In health care today, every line is a front line. At the Quality Institute, we continue to support all our members impacted by COVID-19 by assembling valuable resources, experts, webinars, and helping behind the scenes in any way we can. We’re here for you, so please reach out and we’ll do whatever we can to help at this critical time.