VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, April 3, 2020

This is Our Time

Good morning.

Another page on the calendar has turned and brought us to April.  That would not normally be noteworthy but, as I said recently, April 2020 will be a month, perhaps THE month, that will be remembered and talked about for a long time.

All the models of the novel coronavirus that I am following indicate that the peak of the case count and associated hospitalizations will occur in the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May.  Until then, we will continue to see our admissions of COVID-19 inpatients increase.

I am grateful that Governor Reeves implemented a shelter-in-place order, effective today.  It’s become abundantly clear, based on evidence from other countries, that social distancing, along with good hand hygiene, are meaningful tools to slow the virus down and flatten the curve of projected cases.  Between now and the peak later this month, every day that we are “socially distanced” matters.

One of UMMC’s most steadfast friends and supporters, Eli Manning, sent this video message to the Medical Center family.

I can tell you this:  We are prepared.  As I participate in national calls involving academic medical centers, large hospitals and health systems, and the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, I have not heard a single thing that others have done that we haven’t done or are in the process of doing.  We have checked all the boxes.  That gives me a certain level of comfort, but I know that circumstances will present new boxes that we will have to contend with.  And we will.

Over the last few days I have visited the units where our teams are caring for COVID-19 patients.  I am so impressed with your professionalism and calm demeanor.  I know that you are ready and will manage whatever comes with grace and courage and compassion. 

I’m overwhelmed by how our community has rallied around UMMC to show its support.  Whether it’s donations of PPE (for example, more than 4,000 manufactured and cloth masks), meals for our care teams or accolades for our health care heroes in the press and on social media, our state is aware of your incredible service like never before.

I’ve had calls from across the country from people asking what they can do to help.  One of those came from Ole Miss and NFL hero Eli Manning, who has been a champion of UMMC and Children’s of Mississippi for many years.  Eli sent his regards in a video that accompanies today’s VC Notes.  Thank you so much for thinking of us, Eli.

I am always impressed by what our UMMC community can accomplish in “normal” times, but the truth is, we never even know what we’re capable of until we confront a crisis, especially one of this magnitude.  The level of resourcefulness, dedication and teamwork is truly inspiring.  But I know you’ll understand when I say that I’d really rather not have to go through all this to discover how truly awesome you are!

That brings me to this passage from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Fellowship of the Ring.”  I’ve always admired it and think it’s appropriate for our current situation:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.  “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.  But that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

I know this is hard.  I would never minimize or try to gloss over that with happy talk.  There is uncertainty.  There is dislocation.  There is fear and fatigue.  And a lot more on the way.  But we are deciding, now, what we will do with this time that we did not ask for, but has been given us.  And I know that we will use our time to step up and show the world what it means to be #UMMCStrong.

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