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An HHS advisor, a hospital system COO and a behavioral health services CEO reflect on successes, the need for ongoing vigilance, and greater support for the underserved

Over the past 14 months, John Carroll alumni across the country have answered the call to lead, learn and serve during the pandemic. On Monday, April 12, JCU COVID Task Force Co-Chair Dr. Sherri Crahen welcomed CBS News political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns ’09 to moderate a virtual discussion with three JCU alumni who have been leading the federal and local response to the pandemic. 

An on-demand recording of A Call to Serve - Leadership Through COVID and Beyond is now available.

Panelists included: 

  • Michael Anderson, MD ’86, a pediatric critical care physician and former President of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA, currently serving as senior advisor to the assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response at Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, D.C.
  • Eric Beck, DO ’04, Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the University Hospitals Health System and former President, CEO and Chief Clinical Integration Officer of Evolution Health in Dallas, TX.
  • Martina Moore, Ph.D. ‘01G, President and CEO of Moore Counseling and Mediation Services and Coordinator of John Carroll’s Substance Use Disorder Counseling Program. 

 

The panel discussed lessons learned during the pandemic, the path ahead as we transition from triaging and mitigating to rebuilding, and implications for students and young professionals pursuing careers in healthcare, public policy, and civic and corporate leadership.  

An on-demand recording of A Call to Serve, Leadership Through COVID and Beyond is now available.

Here are five insights from the discussion:

  1. Ongoing vigilance is needed, even as we celebrate success

  • There’s much to cheer, as healthcare systems throughout the country responded rapidly to a novel disease impacting the entire global population simultaneously. 
  • Academic medicine rose to the challenge, advancing multiple vaccines and therapeutics in record time. 
  • Telehealth emerged as a convenient, high-quality tool for caregivers to connect to patients virtually, and will remain a critical complement to in-person care. 
  • Teachers, employers, and essential workers adapted to overcome physical distance and address new needs.
  • However, threats from new variants require continued caution, and support for vulnerable populations lost traction as attention and investment shifted to COVID. 

 

Dr. Beck ‘04: “We should celebrate that we learned to treat a new disease...with an unprecedented amount of collaboration... Health systems in Ohio and across the state have rallied in service to the community... But there are a number of vulnerable populations who have not yet been adequately vaccinated.”

 

Dr. Anderson, ’86: “Kids have been affected to the core. Children are being taught in two dimensions. There isn't the community around them. The number of child abuse cases reported has gone way down. That's not a good thing--that means that we're not detecting kids that are being neglected or abused, because they're isolated.”

 

Dr. Moore ’01G: “Our underserved populations still struggle to get the services that they need. We have seen an increase in overdoses from opiates as well as cocaine. While we were focusing on saving lives from COVID, the other diseases increased significantly.”

 

  1. We must aim higher than a “return to normal.”

  • As civic and corporate leaders relax mask mandates, loosen restrictions around large gatherings and plan for a return to work and school, we must avoid letting the need for normalcy prevent us from confronting the inequities COVID uncovered within our most vulnerable populations. 
  • We must acknowledge the level of trauma we collectively experienced and come together to support those who are still suffering, especially children, communities of color, and care providers themselves. 

 

Dr. Anderson, ’86: “I hope we don't get back to completely normal, because this pandemic had silver linings, but it exposed so many things that we must do better. Another thing the Jesuits bring to your heart is social justice, and I hope we don't get back to ‘normal,’ because there are too many things in our system that need fixing.”

 

Dr. Moore ‘01G: “I have clients that are telling me that they're very afraid that their companies are preparing for them to come back this fall. We’re going to have a new normal, and we’ll have to define what it looks like. We’re going to be forced to meet people at a place that is comfortable for them.”

 

Dr. Beck ’04: “The pandemic has exposed real vulnerabilities in our health system — public health and safety, hospitals, the behavioral health community. Whether it be the supply chain, or the shadow crisis that is the wellness and resiliency of healthcare practitioners who have gone non-stop for nearly a year and a half.”

 

  1. Collaboration and connection are keys to quality care

  • Throughout the pandemic, healthcare systems that normally competed for patients collaborated to better serve their communities. 
  • In NE Ohio, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth and University Hospitals shared data and best practices to accelerate learnings and improve outcomes. The pandemic highlighted the interconnection of the many aspects of our lives, and how they collectively impact our physical and mental health.
  • For many, the pandemic reshuffled priorities as the once clear lines between office and home, and professional and personal, blurred.  

 

Dr. Anderson ’86: “The nurse, the nurse practitioner, the doctor, the pharmacist -- all have to work in concert, and I think that became even more important during the pandemic.

 

Dr. Moore, ’01G: “We have seen integrated behavioral healthcare reach a new level. We’re spending more time at the table as team.” 

 

Dr. Beck ’04: “There’s a notion emerging from the NIH around whole health — humans and the intersection between social influences, spiritual, faith, culture, community dynamics, even structural, environment and nutrition. The pandemic has highlighted the interconnectivity in how you feel psychologically and physically. It reminded us how fragile life is and how interconnected we really are. There’s an opportunity for us to be more mindful of where we are, and how we take care of ourselves and those around us.”

 

  1. Healthcare needs resilient, purpose-driven professionals

  • COVID has created the need and ability to innovate quickly while opening up new channels of investment and demand for care providers, especially in behavioral health. 
  • Flexibility, resiliency, communications, ethics, and leadership through change are skills and aptitudes of growing importance in healthcare. 
  • Young professionals with these skills and aptitudes are positioned to make an impact in medicine and healthcare administration. 

 

Dr. Beck, 04: “There’s a growing need for healthcare practitioners of all types. There's a number of new and emerging roles in public health, population health, health care, data and analytics, the business of healthcare and healthcare leadership that are really coming into their own. The pandemic has [elevated] the importance of non-clinical healthcare leaders.”

 

Dr. Anderson, ’86: “I think medicine is going to be the most fascinating career over the next 30 years. Not just because we have to rebuild public health, but even pre-COVID, the innovations that are coming down the pipe...I can think of no better career, and I can think of no better place to prepare you than John Carroll.”

 

Dr. Moore, ‘01G: “We will be significantly understaffed in the behavioral healthcare field if we don't do something quickly... Our goal is to attract more young people to the field, and really set them up so that they can get in the field quicker and be more involved in community agencies, private agencies or wherever they see themselves.”
 

  1. Being Men and Woman for Others is a guiding light for leaders

  • Leaders during the pandemic faced limited data, difficult decisions around triage and prioritization, and unprecedented need across communities for greater resources and support. 
  • The curiosity, critical thinking, ethics and servant-leadership nurtured at Jesuit, liberal arts institutions like JCU are essential attributes successful leaders employed during the pandemic to do the greatest good. 

 

Dr. Beck ’04: “Being a citizen and serving a higher purpose. How to organize around important work. A liberal arts education creates a crucible for experiential and classroom activities, and I’m grateful for that.”

 

Dr. Moore ’01G: “My John Carroll experience prepared me to be a leader… as a counselor, a business owner, an advocate, and to teach the next generation. I’m so proud of what I received at JCU.”

 

Dr. Anderson, ’86: “We talk about being a man or woman for others, but when you get into the real world and you need to make choices, stay true to your ethics, and take care of the most vulnerable, that concept becomes your guiding light.”


Interested in hearing more from John Carroll’s alumni experts? A recording of A Call to Serve, Leadership Through COVID and Beyond is now available.

For media inquiries or questions about this event, please contact Mike Scanlan, AVP Marketing & Communications at mscanlan@jcu.edu