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Looking Back on a Year of COVID-19 at the UNC Medical Center.

Dear colleagues,

Today marks one year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in North Carolina. The days and weeks that followed March 3, 2020, were filled with uncertainty, fear, and grief as our hospital and our community adapted to the harsh realities of this disease.

We have worried about friends, family and co-workers who might contract the disease. We have grieved for loved ones we have lost. What had once been familiar became strange as dining room tables became school desks, living rooms became offices, and the world outside our homes became something to be approached with great caution.

We have asked so much of you this year. Our daily practices here at the Medical Center transformed dramatically, sometimes from one day to the next, as new policies and procedures were put in place to prevent transmission of COVID and to prepare our hospital should a surge of new cases overwhelm our resources. The number of COVID patients in our beds, thankfully, never reached such dire levels, but the impact of COVID on our lives, both professionally and personally, has been enormous.

Although December brought us a post-Thanksgiving spike in cases and deaths, there were also glimmers of hope with the authorization of effective vaccines and the establishment of our own vaccination clinics. Once again, we united to overcome the significant practical and logistical difficulties of standing up an immense vaccination campaign in just a few short weeks. These efforts are ongoing and continue to be improved as more of our fellow North Carolinians become eligible to receive the vaccine. Thank you to all of you who continue to volunteer in our vaccine clinics and offer hope to our community one shot at a time.

I have spoken often over the past year about how proud I am to be a part of a team that has overcome the incredible challenges presented by COVID-19. I have never felt more connected to our mission of delivering the highest level of care to the people of North Carolina and all of you are the reason why. Your selflessness, your perseverance and your empathy for our patients and for one another has sustained me and given me hope through this crisis.

March 5 is National Employee Appreciation Day and, though there is much more work to do, please know that our leadership team and I are incredibly grateful for your commitment to our mission, our values and for the work that you do to keep our patients safe and healthy. COVID-19 has vividly illustrated the vital role you play in providing Carolina Care to everyone who walks through the doors of the Medical Center. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

We commemorate this one year milestone at a time when we transition from a cold, rainy winter to the sounds of spring.  I’m hopeful that we are experiencing the same transition from the depths of COVID to a more promising future.

Thank you and be well,

Janet Hadar, President, UNC Hospitals