Someone Call a Doctor!
Quite often the interactions between medical experts and patients are better described as flashes of urgency, rather than pillars to form lasting relationships. In fact, medical data document the massive failure to return to treatment rate due to trepidation, as well as the long-overdue delays in seeking medical treatment by many Americans. In other words, we have created fear around doctors, medical screening, and treatment! In fact, my grandmother, rest her soul, would rather ingest some weird concoction of fruits, herbs, and liquor than visiting the local doctor for an on-going ailment.
Despite our fearful notions we find ourselves, at this moment, deeply connected to medical opinions and information. Turn on the television, every news outlet has revised charts daily depicting infection data, testing rates, and regional spread statistics world-wide. Power-up your MacBook or laptop, emails and contact logs are filled with medical protective equipment companies selling UVC light gadgets, temperature readers, masks, and hand-sanitizer. Did I forget to mention your phone? Every application has infection maps, theories, and opinions, lots of opinions, which happen to be my favorite (not really). We are inundated with information, yet we are still searching for real data, from our friends in medicine, that will help us safely open our schools.
As we are looking to redefine our relationship with medical experts, some educational leaders are fortunate to have hospitals and health centers as part of their extended school families. In the City of Long Branch, our largest employer is St. Barnabas’s Monmouth Medical Center. Many of our families have found a career in their backyard as security officers, medical assistants, doctors, and administrators. The close proximity to our schools (two walking blocks) has allowed our school family to connect beyond consultation and treatment. In fact, the CEO and staff routinely visit our schools and have really elevated our Future-Ready-Schools experience, as well as our biomedical engineering program.
During the past few months, we still connect weekly and provide updates every Monday morning. The hospital is aware of our virtual learning experience and community feeding schedule, while we are well informed of their COVID-19 screening and treatment process. When supplies were needed, we raided our science labs and immediately sent over boxes of goggles. I later learned my colleagues throughout the country with similar relationships were doing the same.
If anything positive will be realized from our lessons in quarantine, I hope we, educators and leaders, attempt to see our medical experts in a different light. Let’s mindfully allow our fears of sickness and treatment to dissipate and attempt to form a nourishing connection beyond the hospital bed. Maybe our health clinicians can become more ingrained in our school culture and not just an urgent call for help, which they always answer.
In closing, a special thanks to all who work in hospitals, health centers, and urgent care facilities; regardless of title, station, shift, or experience, we appreciate you!