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This Healthcare Crisis is Real – We Need You to Stay Strong For Us

This is just a small sampling of news headlines from the past several days that reflect a system in crisis
When we are sick or injured, we can rely on the healthcare heroes, the caregivers, to be there for us. During this pandemic, we need to be there for them.

I got my first job working in a hospital in 1973 and one way or another I’ve been in healthcare ever since. And just about every year there has been a new “healthcare crisis.” Truth be told, though, the circumstances were never really so dire as to warrant the label “crisis.”

The healthcare crisis created by this pandemic is different. The challenge meets every possible definition of the word crisis.

Many hospitals are overwhelmed like they never have been before. And they will inevitably be hit by an even bigger surge in the wake of the holidays. Never before in my career have I heard such serious concerns that patients could die because no ICU beds are available, that ventilators might go unused because there are no trained professionals available to operate them.

Hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare organizations are scrambling for staff while temporary staffing agencies are struggling to keep up with the demand. Unlike last spring, when hospitals could afford to loan staff to overwhelmed facilities elsewhere, today – as one provider put it – there is no cavalry coming. 

Every healthcare leader I’ve spoken with over the past several months is seriously concerned that, as dire as staffing challenges are today, they will be much worse in the near future.

Many hospitals and nursing homes are, once again, struggling to provide adequate personal protective equipment for caregivers who are, once again, being asked to reuse PPE that was intended for one-time use only.

After spending 12 or more hours caring for sick and dying covid19 patients, caregivers are demoralized by seeing people out in public refusing to physically distance or wear face masks, and are even being verbally assaulted, including via social media, when they advocate for more effective public health measures.

More than a thousand healthcare workers have died of Covid-19 and many thousands more have been infected and/or quarantined. It is inevitable that more will sicken and die in the weeks and months to come.

Many caregivers have been pushed beyond the limits of their endurance, and yet are still being asked to do more.

Words like stress, burnout, compassion fatigue, moral injury, and PTSD have taken on a new and more urgent meaning as the pandemic has stretched on, and with whatever light might be at the end of the tunnel seen dimly and distantly, we’re seeing unprecedented levels of anxiety and pre-traumatic stress disorder.

We all hope and pray for an effective vaccine, and for widespread public willingness to take that vaccine, but even if that happens, it will still take years to heal the damage that has been, and continues to be, done by this pandemic.

There are no magic bullets so for now we must rely on band-aids. That’s why I’ve created the Stay Strong For Us project. This eBook and website will include messages of hope, encouragement and resilience from more than one hundred healthcare leaders, authors, and academicians. 

Values Coach is covering the entire cost – there will be no charge to organizations or individuals.

I’ve commissioned the iconic image of a nurse standing up to the covid virus – the way another anonymous hero once stood up to Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square – for the cover. 

We will launch Stay Strong For Us in January as a way we can celebrate the courage and caring of 2020 and prepare ourselves to, paraphrasing Shakespeare’s Henry V, go once more unto the pandemic breach in 2021.

I would love to hear from you: Who do you think I should ask to share a message for this project? Either respond to this Spark Plug or email

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