Your good health requires intentionality, moments of thought and reflection. There is much to learn from the current moment for all of us. Here are some immediate thoughts and reflections. Of course, we’ll continue to learn more in the days ahead. The real challenge, as it always is, is to move from observed learning to applied learning and successful implementation.  

The coronavirus (COVID-19) appears to be the result of an institutional failure. In this case, in China. The health system in the U.S. is also highly institutional in structure – meaning driven by big government and industry. However, because of high-quality health care providers and patients that actively engage and demand the system to be more responsive (inclusive of government and industry); it can be argued that our health care system is the best in the world. This passion is why health care reform is such a big issue in the U.S. The truth is that the long arch of health care policy, especially community health, is grounded in patient demand; moving to respond to the needs of patients. This moment is another moment of reflection in this regard and it will usher in new innovation focused on the improved health and health care of the individual.  The more we empower patients and health care providers to have true and active caring relationships, the better health outcomes we can expect. The American patient is compliant because they trust their doctor. At this COVID-19 moment, it is also true that the American patient is displaying a greater level of compliance out of our sense of community and national responsibility. This reality is critical to fighting the virus successfully.

In this moment of reflection, it is important to note that there are many statements and data points that can be and are misleading. We are still in the heat of the battle and our politics do not help in the discussion of observations and facts. It will be up to all of us to study the numbers and pay full attention to those that empower you, your investment in your health, your healthy actions, and of course, your relationship with your primary care physician and the individuals that actively invest themselves in caring for you. What we do know is that many who were ill were not tested because they were not ill enough. This is still true but changing fast, enabling all that desire to be tested to do so and quickly. What we also know is that those who are healthy (i.e., who do not have underlying health conditions) are best positioned to fight off the virus. Truly, your health is your most valuable asset and defense.

What we also know from COVID-19 is the length our government will go to protect our health. This is very good news for all of us. Our system actually cares about the health and wellbeing of the individual, not just profits and power. We are not expendable; every person matters. It is important to cease this moment to focus on the intelligent and continued investment in our improved health and wellbeing, establishing a broad based focus on the leading causes of death in society, many of which are preventable and require our collective attention. In doing so, we must also be wise enough to understand that death itself is a stage of life. There are some things we mere mortals cannot change and should not.

After we defeat the coronavirus pandemic, we should tackle these other preventable health and wellness issues with the same focus and dedication. Your life and the lives of our loved ones are not statistics. Every life is a gift, and we all must work diligently to secure and improve the health state for every person, every day.