by Bryan Campbell, CMS Chief Executive Officer

Today I don’t feel very final. It seems like the interminably long and painful 2020 has creeped into 2021. I am typing these words on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. This morning we had our Colorado Medical Society staff meeting (over Zoom, of course) to discuss the big issues we are facing right now in our state: vaccination plans, physician confidentiality, the looming legislative session, and more.

I was reminded that I was asked to write this issue’s Final Word; to perhaps put a bow on 2020 and set a vision for the future in 2021? Where to begin? There is so much that isn’t final. The COVID-19 pandemic rages on. The social unrest following the murder of George Floyd and so many others created a call for change, but there is so much work to be done. The most contested and controversial election in American history kept the nation divided for months and spilled into this year.

Then Amanda Gorman took the stage.

The poet took the stage at the Presidential Inauguration of Joe Biden to recite the poem “The Hill We Climb.” This stirring recitation ended with the following verse:

“We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

As my emotions stirred, I was reminded of the great words of the Roman philosopher Seneca (or the 90’s rock bank Semisonic)”:

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

That captures the moment perfectly. As you grapple with what we believe to be the beginning of the end of this public health crisis, we see the new beginning of medicine reimagined. With the access and reimbursement for telehealth services permanently changed, practices have forever changed the way they do business. Decades-old policies on dealing with pandemics are being rewritten, modernized, to help us prepare for a future crisis…

…and Colorado physicians continue to demonstrate their resilience, their strength, and their dedication to protecting and preserving public health. Despite some real challenges along the way, Colorado continues to be one of the nation’s leaders in COVID immunization rates. Colorado physicians continue to contribute to national policy on keeping schools and communities safe.

Colorado physicians continue to lead.

Now we begin new work, taking a comprehensive look at some of the inherent racism and bias in the health system and the Colorado Medical Society itself. The CMS Board of Directors has approved the creation of a five-year strategic plan to analyze these factors and create a strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion.

This is bold and challenging work. COVID-19 brought to the surface the persistent iniquities in health care in Colorado. It shined a light on the difference between equality and equity.

Colorado physicians again can lead the way. I’m hopeful. This is not the final word. This is a new beginning.

“For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” ■

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, Final Word