A Message from Dr. Richard Friend, Dean of the College of Community Health Sciences

May 18, 2020

We face constant change these days. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us all with new circumstances, new uncertainties and new challenges. How we do our jobs, how we connect with co-workers, friends and loved ones, and how we provide health care have changed.

Adaptability is the new normal.

Considering the swiftness and scale of the COVID-19 outbreak, there are challenges that could not have been anticipated. Older folks have had to learn new technologies to stay connected with family and loved ones. Parents have had to become teachers to their children. We’ve had to stay at home, and when we do go out practice social distancing and safe hygiene.

At University Medical Center, we’ve been forced out of our traditional and comfortable ways of working, with virtual meetings, remote working and the implementation of new health and safety practices. We’ve had to re-envision how we provide comprehensive health care to our patients and communities during this unprecedented time. From a technology and scientific standpoint, there’s been 10 years’ worth of change in 10 weeks.

But within this new normal we find ourselves in, which requires us to be adaptable, there are some silver linings.

Adaptability is essential to developing new ideas, re-conceptualizing services, identifying the gaps and finding the solutions. It makes us open to new ways of doing things and new viewpoints. It fosters resilience, especially during a crisis.

At UMC, we are still seeing patients in face-to-face appointments, but we are also caring for patients virtually, with visits via Zoom, Facetime and phone. We offer telehealth services to meet the specific needs of our first responders and health-care professionals who are dealing with the brunt of COVID-19.

We are traveling to Black Belt communities in Alabama, where there is a significant lack of access to health care, to provide COVID-19 screening and testing, and we will soon launch these services for University of Alabama employees. As this crisis continues and individuals and families face the loss of jobs, health insurance and other basic needs, we are communicating weekly with social service providers and linking patients directly to services in the community. In addition, we are working closing with UA, providing medical information, assistance and resources as it works to safely re-open campus at some point in the future.

As always, our goal is to be here for you, our patients and our communities – to meet you where you are, to provide for your health-care needs in ways that are safe and effective during this time, and to improve health in your community.

The College of Community Health Sciences operates University Medical Center