Standing Up With Our Patients and Communities

The sun did rise this morning here in Wisconsin, but it was difficult for me to do so. I have been working for health care for all since my days in college 20 years ago. I am sad, I am frustrated, I am processing, but I had to get up and quickly, together with my wife, reassure our two children, including my heartbroken 9 year-old daughter, that they will be ok, that we will one day see a woman president, and that we should continue to stand up for what we think is right, and especially for those who are marginalized or less fortunate.
After a quick breakfast, I went to clinic for an early morning all-staff meeting, followed by a full day of patient care. Even though I desperately wanted to read election analysis and try to make sense of it all, it helped to focus on patient care. I was reminded quickly as I saw some new and some familiar patients, that it’s a privilege everyday to help people in times of need, and that I will continue to do all that I can to help them, both in clinic, and through my NPA advocacy.
This evening I returned from our family medicine department’s annual awards dinner, where I heard from amazing colleagues who inspire me everyday with the tireless and dedicated work that they do to educate learners, take care of our patients, and improve the health of our communities, from Madison to Haiti and Ecuador. Very poignantly, our keynote speaker articulated that we must foster learning environments and health systems that prioritize the personal connection we can make with our patients, that helps them feel less alone, and provides dignity, even when they cannot find it in other places in this world. It was helpful to spend time with my family medicine family.
I am fortunate to be your leader for another important family – the National Physicians Alliance. ​Later today I am headed to Washington, DC, for our fall board meeting weekend and post-election conference. We’ve been planning for two months, and our whole agenda will be turned on its head, I suspect. We will learn more about the implications of this election, and dialogue about why now, more than ever, physicians, other health professionals, and public interest groups must work together to stand for justice, health, and wellness in our communities and this nation.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” This quote from Dr. Martin Luther King is one of my favorites, but I wonder what he would say in response to all that we’ve seen this year and the results last night. It doesn’t seem that way right now, and for those of us who care about health equity, the coming weeks and months may become extremely difficult. But I know Dr. King would say that all of us, now more than ever, need to continue the fight for health justice – for our children, for our patients, for our neighbors.
I thank all of you for your collaboration and efforts to stand up for the health of our patients and communities. Please invite a colleague or many to join NPA, and our future campaigns, which among others will tackle high drug prices, the scourge of gun violence, and the continued fight to assure that all Americans have access to health care.
You will soon hear more about our Board’s learnings and deliberations in Washington, DC, from our new President, Dr. Manan Trivedi, who officially joins our NPA family on Friday.