April 10, 2020 by
Richard L. Page
Dear Larner Community,
It’s now 16 days since the Stay Home/Stay Safe order went into effect, and today we heard from Governor Scott that this will continue through May 15. We are in for a long haul as we all play our part in countering this public health and health care crisis of the century. It’s important to recognize that even though we may be experiencing some “cabin fever,” every one of us is playing a role in bringing health and stability back to Vermont, our country and the world. This includes those at home and especially the heroes on the front lines of medical care.
This week the issue of personal protection equipment (PPE) has come into more focus. New guidance from the CDC, and early signs of improved supply, now allow for universal masking at the Medical Center and throughout the University of Vermont. Please keep in mind that these masks do not protect us from infection, so physical distancing and hand hygiene remain as important as ever. On the other hand, wearing a mask whenever near other people reduces the chance of spreading an unrecognized infection that we might have.
Medical education continues for all four classes. We all look forward to our students’ return to clinical rotations as soon as would be prudent and are closely monitoring the various governing bodies that will determine our ability to safely resume clinical education.
Graduate education and essential research also continue as before. A recent highlight is Dr. Jason Bates’ research and development, with colleagues from the college of engineering and mathematical sciences, of an innovative, simplified ventilator that may actually reduce the chance for lung damage (named the "Vermontilator"). A recent new story about this is available here.
I was delighted on Tuesday that over 280 people joined a virtual Town Hall that included Deans Christa Zehle, Jan Carney, Claude Deschamps and Gordon Jensen. We may have set an attendance record for an LCOM meeting. If you are interested, this is available for viewing on line.
Today we announced that we will hold a virtual graduation for the medical Class of 2020 on May 17, 2020. Although we share disappointment that this cannot be in person with this wonderful class, this option will give the opportunity for every student (as well as their friends and family) to participate together and celebrate the remarkable achievement of graduation from medical school. Our plan is to allow hooding at home, if students wish, along with an address by Dr. Joia Mukherjee, who was chosen by the students earlier in the year.
These are troubling days, but things will not always be this way. Please stay well. Remember to keep physically separated but socially connected, as our social connections will help us stay the course. For those who recognize Passover and Easter this week, I hope you celebrate (virtually) with family and friends. And for all I wish you a safe and healthy weekend.
Richard L. Page, M.D.
Dean, The Robert Larner M.D. College of Medicine
The University of Vermont