Changing the Shape and Direction of Society
There are moments in history when everything changes. When events of such magnitude change the shape and direction of our society. 1776, when the United States declared its independence. 1865, when the Confederacy was defeated. 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was signed. And 1968, when the defense of those rights endured a crucible of righteous disobedience and personal sacrifice. Each of those years was attended by parallel crises.
War. Poverty. Civil unrest.
2020 has the makings of such a year. A global pandemic has killed more than 100,000 Americans. An economic meltdown has thrust 20 percent of Californians into unemployment. And, most recently, a national movement seeking long deserved justice for people of colour.
WellSpace Health is in the middle of it all. When the pandemic hit we ran towards the danger and transformed our system of care to meet the ever changing needs of our community. As the economy began to tumble we started welcoming new patients and clients into our arms while coaching business groups on how to manage the trauma facing their colleagues. As the health disparities began to mount, we were among the first to speak out on statewide panels, local television and radio, and community forums where we highlighted the social determinants of health that threatened the lives of our family, friends, and neighbors.
If you have felt overwhelmed, that is likely why. While others have watched or have been touched by the crises of 2020 we have been submerged by them. We have overcome our fears, cared for the sick, protected the well, and spoken out about what we believe to be a righteous truth, inequity. Every one of you should be proud of how you reacted. You have met pandemic, poverty and unrest with grit, compassion and love.
We have a long way to go. A long hot summer is before us and an Autumn ripe for a second wave. 2020 will be a marathon – a months long test of our endurance facing challenges never before seen. I know you can do it; you have already proven your mettle.
We will need to adjust our course along the way but I think we have all grown accustomed to that. We are dynamic in a changing world. Our ability to pivot is one of the hallmarks of our organization. And by pivoting quickly and effectively we further our mission of achieving regional health through high quality comprehensive care.
The solidarity we are witnessing in the streets has been powerful and I hope that we can come together to learn and grow, as colleagues. Social justice and the social determinants of health are already manifest in the work we do. But I will be highlighting them more in the coming weeks and months and I trust we can live within this time, learn within this time, and be a force for change within this time.
2020 is a year we will all remember. A year of lore. Thanks to what you have done and will do, a year we will look back upon knowing that we made a difference. A year where we helped change the shape and direction of our society.
We are only 5 months in. I am honoured to be defining the way forward together with you.
A. Jonathan Porteus, PhD
Chief Executive Officer