Adaptability & Personal Responsibility in a Challenging Environment

March 19, 2020

Important Message from the Chair - Adaptability & Personal Responsibilty in a Challenging Environment

Dear Members of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Community,

Every day seems like a new challenge for us, with rapid developments in a dynamic and fluid situation. We are all entering uncharted territory in a crisis that none of us wished for. 

This is certainly a stress test for the Department; however, I think it will also be a test that is able to redefine the Department as a more unified and integrated entity for all of us to the benefit of the greater UPHS community.

I want to emphasize the following: under these unusual conditions, we will all be required to demonstrate an unanticipated degree of adaptability. That is why I was heartened by the personal message from Penn President Amy Gutmann yesterday, in which she drew attention to the need for shared sacrifice and a willingness to do many things differently. As President Gutmann said: 

"Everyone has had truly difficult decisions to make. That we have done so together will contribute directly to the health and lives of members of our community and countless others. We will continue to do this guided by the best understanding and evidence for what will protect and save lives." 

As I hope you have taken to heart, social distancing is our main weapon to help "flatten the curve" and blunt the acute impact of COVID-19 infection in our population. It is essential that you adhere to "social distancing" (which really means physical distancing) both at home and at work. 

This point was emphasized by a recent message from our Dean and our CEO:

"It is imperative that clinical and essential members of our workforce do not work while they are sick, and practice social distancing in their personal time." Read more from Dean J. Larry Jameson and UPHS CEO Kevin B. Mahoney.

I also appreciate all of the help from our principal investigators who designated a key person to work in their labs in order to ramp down all lab activities. I would like to remind everyone that the PSOM guidelines state only COVID work that affects the current epidemic is allowed and the overarching goal is to depopulate the labs as much as possible. To be clear, this is not just scaled down to keep research at a minimal level; we are winding down most operations, likely for months to come.  

I cannot emphasize enough how every single individual in our Department -- and at Penn Medicine overall -- plays an essential role in our struggle to confront this pandemic successfully. We are prepared to aid and support the most vulnerable -- our patients -- but everyone at Penn Medicine will need to make adjustments for some difficult days and weeks ahead of us.

Words cannot express my appreciation for all of your willingness to adapt to such demanding circumstances. These are difficult times for everybody, but I know we are ready to meet such a test. 

Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.

David Roth
Chair, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine