The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded many changes of all of us. At The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, where our work has continued at full force, we have both adapted our programs and launched new initiatives to address the needs of the COVID-19 crisis.
At the same time, we are digging into the critical need to address anti-racism in healthcare. Humanism in healthcare must include an explicit commitment to being anti-racist. Health inequities, vulnerable populations, and social determinants of health have long been a core part of Gold Foundation work. Racism fuels these areas in critical ways. The role of racism plays in these areas must be faced, challenged, and tackled in a wide variety of ways. We are developing our work in this critical area and will have more to come soon.
Through it all, our mission of elevating the importance of the human connection in healthcare remains the same. Compassionate, collaborative, scientifically excellent care is as critical as ever. But how we help support such care has required shifts.
In order to fulfill our mission during the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism, we are focusing on four areas:
- Adapting current programs, as needed: Many programs needed to be adapted. Most Gold Humanism Honor Society inductions moved online this spring, and we set up new tools, including a Zoom platform, PowerPoint program template, and video that schools could use in their first virtual induction ceremonies. Gold Foundation leaders are joining many of these remote live inductions to bring congratulations and share brief remarks. Many White Coat Ceremonies and Nursing White Coat/Oath Ceremonies this year will also require special support. We are working with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to host a webinar on June 30 to dive into the logistics of hosting a virtual White Coat Ceremony, which will be available as a recording. We have also created a White Coat Ceremony toolkit. Much more will be coming. Other programs have been able to continue with little or no disruption, such as the Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Healthcare Essay Contest and Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Humanism in Healthcare Award, which will be announced this summer.
- Launching COVID-19 initiatives: Helping reinforce the human connection during this moment of crisis is critical. We have created a free downloadable Tell Me More® Toolkit for COVID-19 and an evolving list of resources, including remotely accessible tools such as the free Humanism in Health and Healthcare online course, Gold Human InSight Webinar series, and more.
- Prioritizing vulnerable populations: Given the healthcare disparities laid bare during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are addressing the needs of vulnerable populations whenever possible through our grant-making and award recognition. An example of this is our Gold Student Summer Fellowship program, which awards grants to medical students to pursue projects that further humanistic care. The eight 2020 projects were chosen for their focus on populations who are facing healthcare disparities and are particularly vulnerable during this COVID-19 crisis.
• Promoting anti-racism, inclusion, and health equity in healthcare: The Gold Foundation’s vision that healthcare will be dramatically improved by placing human interests, values and dignity at the core of teaching and practice cannot be realized without also addressing systemic racism. Humanism in healthcare, defined by its shorthand – compassionate, collaborative, and scientifically excellent, must include an explicit commitment to being inclusive and anti-racist.
The Gold Foundation is committed to being part of the change and a leader in the necessary work to create an anti-racist healthcare system, from medical and nursing training to physicians and nurses in practice throughout patient care. We released a statement against racism and are actively assessing our next steps.
While this COVID-19 operating plan was developed in the emerging moments of the crisis, when the Gold Foundation offices shifted to remote work, so much change is still underway. The rapidly shifting forces in our world require that we remain nimble, and further adjustments and collaboration with external partners will no doubt be forthcoming.
Please stay tuned, and thank you, as always, for your great support and belief in our shared mission of humanism in healthcare.