Looking back on 2020, it was a difficult year that affected the very fabric of humanity – individuals, societies, and nations. As a result of the unexpected and unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic, we realize how truly connected the human race is, regardless on which continent we reside.
Those of us in medicine and healthcare have been pushed to new limits. Many of the intrepid souls who work in hospitals did not make it. Too many healthcare professionals have succumbed to the virus, as well as thousands in the general population. Many lives and families will never be the same again. While those of us in healthcare have been on the front lines, we are not the only ones. From healthcare workers to family businesses, civic workers, law enforcement, farmers, supermarkets, and food distributors, many have also played important roles and faced higher risks of infection to varying degrees.
No one could have predicted the evolution of this year when the bell rang, the ball dropped, and we participated in the classic countdown announcing the Happy New Year on January 1st, 2020. How quickly things changed in just a few weeks and months. The suffering brought about this year by the COVID-19 virus has been felt in every aspect of our society. Hardest hit are those communities that are typically always at greater risk, such as the elderly, the underserved and minority populations. My heart goes out to everyone. We are all in this together. We mourn and remember those who we have lost, and appreciate the ones who are with us.
What has 2020 reminded you of? That life is short? That we are all connected in one way or another? That social justice and racial inequality still have a long way to go? That we are all capable of immense courage in the face of adversity? That the only thing constant in life is change? That the strength of the human spirit and the capacity to help one another is something we can all aspire to? That every day is a gift and that is why it is called the present? That we cannot always control tomorrow? That the right to live is a desire and fight embedded in the human race? Even terrorism has subsided as everyone is seeking to protect their health and preserve their existence. Does 2020 remind you of survival and taking care of one another? That we should remember to cherish our loved ones and not take them for granted? These are all things that 2020 has reminded me of, and I hope it has for you too.
As we all look forward and attempt to imagine how the rest of this pandemic and new world order will play out, it’s difficult to have a clear vision. However, 2020 has accelerated many things about how we live and work – such as rapid technological advancements and adoptions, remote working, virtual access to healthcare and learning, importance of mental health, and even mass migrations out of certain cities into other areas that will impact community compositions for many years to come. As I read what experts in various fields have to say about the near future, there are a few things that do stand out. For instance, a Forbes.com article states that, “In 2020, every company has had to become a tech company as data and computing have become essential to everything we do. In 2021, every company will learn to become a healthcare company, too, as safeguarding employees and customers becomes a core requirement of doing business.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2020/11/23/the-5-biggest-healthcare-trends-in-2021-everyone-should-be-ready-for-today/?sh=22f548b621c0 I think this is a pretty accurate prediction of what the new future will look like for all of us as COVID-19 Compliance Officers are also becoming a requirement in many businesses across industries.
Despite the obvious devastation and tragic unfolding of 2020, I am hopeful that we will also see many positive changes emerge. As scientists are diligently working to create an effective and safe vaccine, I hope we will all remember the lessons of safety and compassion for one another that we learned this year as a result of COVID-19. I also believe in the strength and resilience of the human spirit, and our ability to rally together for good if and when we choose to. Despite the hardships and the suffering, I know that we will get through these challenges. I am hopeful as we move into 2021. Let us be kind and compassionate to one another, and take care of each other. After all, we are not all that different – and 99.9% of your DNA is the same as the person right next to you!