The year 2020 isn’t the year any of us dreamed of. The one-two punch of coronavirus and the bruising economic recession it left behind have been devastating to so many families. No one knows when we’ll return to “normal” or what that will even look like. Despite the many troubles we’ve encountered this year, I’ve never felt prouder to be a part of this community and working for a healthier future.
I’ve seen firsthand how we came together to respond to this pandemic and the results are impressive. Soon after coronavirus was first detected in San Diego County, hundreds of individuals, businesses and faith organizations began contributing to Palomar Health Foundation, where I served as chair of the board for the past two years. Generous neighbors gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, meals for our frontline healthcare workers and more than 30,000 handmade cloth masks.
Doctors, nurses and other staff bravely stepped up to combat this brand new virus, and they fought to keep it from spreading. A global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) – where price gouging was common – heaped on extra anxiety and confusion. And yet we overcame this with the overwhelming support of our community members and the leadership of our Palomar Health team, headed by President and CEO Diane Hansen.
Responding to COVID-19 has required tackling one unique problem after another. Healthcare staff devised new ways of isolating patients, rapidly ramped up lab testing and assisted in setting up a Federal Medical Station. Meanwhile, Palomar Health doctors partnered with Mayo Clinic in a clinical trial to learn if plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can benefit those who are still sick, hopefully bringing us one step closer to a cure. Each day, we’re learning more about the virus and the ways we can work together to better prepare for the future.
Whatever may come, I’m committed to supporting Palomar Health Foundation because I know its work is changing lives and leading to better health outcomes. By partnering with our friends and neighbors in just the past year, the Foundation has helped fund cutting-edge cardiology equipment valued at $1 million, supported numerous upgrades to our facilities in Escondido and Poway and enhanced programs for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse, not to mention significant emergency support to fight COVID-19. Right now, this kind of support for our health care system is more critical than ever.
We’ve all been through a lot in 2020, but we shouldn’t overlook the silver lining. Our community is showing resolve and unity in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. And it’s bringing out the best in so many people, inspiring them to act with generosity, courage and resilience. I’m hopeful these qualities will become the legacy of this trying time.
Harvey Hershkowitz is a member of the Palomar Health Foundation’s Board of Directors and served as its chair from 2018 – 2020. He is currently chair of the Board of Directors at Arch Health Medical Group.