MARCH 2021 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 13
COVID ANNIVERSARY A YEAR LATER
BY MICHAEL DOWLING
CEO of Northwell Health
As we near the one-year anniversary
of when Covid-19 consumed New York
and the rest of the country, emotions
are still raw as we vividly remember
the fear and anxiety of the pandemic’s
initial days and, of course, the hundreds
of thousands we lost. But in reflecting on
all that has happened during the worst
public health crisis in our lifetime, I also
maintain an incredible sense of pride
in the healthcare workers and other
essential employees whose personal
sacrifices and courage have enabled us
March 2 is the anniversary of when
Northwell Health — the health system
I lead — admitted its first Covid patient.
And as of late last week, we had treated
163,000 Covid patients across our 23
hospitals and large ambulatory network
of 830 practices. Holding the line of resistance
against this silent killer were thousands
of caregivers and other frontline
workers who put themselves at risk each
day to protect our communities.
For me, this anniversary marks a special
moment to think about not only what
happened but how we can move forward.
We are in no way out of the woods yet,
but it appears our darkest days are
Covid has upended our daily lives and
disrupted our communities, professions,
finances, schools, and children in ways
we could have never imagined. But I
am also reminded of the famous words
from the late preschool TV host Mister
Rogers, whose mother told him: “In times
of tragedy, look for the helpers. You will
always find people who are helping.”
Last March, we saw the very best of
humanity joining together with a common
goal of beating a disease most of us
never heard of. Nightly clap outs echoed
across Long Island’s normally bustling
towns. We were together, reinvigorated
with our families and neighbors, and
understanding that we needed to rely
on another now more than ever.
We also experienced great innovation.
New digital tools are changing the way
we communicate and work. In healthcare,
telehealth has connected us with patients
in ways we never imagined years ago.
The one common thread throughout the
past year, though, has been hope. We never
lost it and we gain more of it as vaccine efforts
slowly but surely continue to ramp up.
Today, one in 20 Americans are fully
vaccinated with one in eight having received
their first vaccine. The vaccines
— combined with mask wearing and social
distancing — are paying dividends,
as the daily positive cases continue to
So, as you reflect on the past year, remember
the helpers — those who made
sacrifices to keep our communities
going. Have hope. And, most importantly,
continue to embrace your families,
friends and neighbors because they are
the ones who have ultimately carried us
through this crisis.
Michael Dowling is president and CEO
of Northwell Health, New York’s largest
healthcare provider and private
“Remember the helpers.”
POINT OF VIEW
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