by Lisa Gilmer, MD, FAAP
My pediatrician calendar used to have four seasons. May to August is school and sports physical season with forms, lots of forms and relief doesn’t come until the first day of school or the season opener. September is ragweed season when no amount of antihistamine is enough to stop the itching and sneezing and relief doesn’t come until the first freeze. October to March marks the long cough, congestion and fever season thanks to influenza, RSV, mono and strep and relief doesn’t come until ground thaws for good. April, the shortest season of all, is spring sneezing and wheezing season as trees and grass bloom and children long to play outside after a long winter. Repeat.
This year the calendar started the second week of March and every day since has been COVID-19 season. Time will tell how long this season will last. Time will tell how we remember months sheltering at home. Time will tell how long it takes to find a new normal. What we learn from today going forward we didn’t learn from a medical school textbook, a residency lecture or a CME conference. What we learn requires wearing gowns, gloves and face masks. What we learn is evidence-based, at least for a day or two. In time, we will learn just how much the pandemic has fundamentally changed the lives of children, families and pediatricians not only in Kansas but across the globe.
Since my term as KAAP president began In July 2018, we’ve faced significant issues- a troubled state foster care system, a national opioid crisis and an immigration showdown at the southern border. Mass shootings shared headlines with the Me Too movement. Fires ravaged the west coast, the Amazon, Australia and Notre Dame. Physician burnout, mental health and suicide came out of the shadows. In hindsight, the conditions were perfect for the world to push back. Today, four million worldwide SARS-CoV-2 cases and global death toll approaching 300,000. Tomorrow, our opportunity to change. Change the way we interact with each other. Change the way we work, learn and play. Change how we take care of our loved ones, colleagues, and ourselves. Change the way we treat those who look, act and think different. Change the footprint we leave on planet Earth. Change what we expect from the health care system we work in.
I set a number of goals for my tenure as KAAP President. Some I met, some I didn’t and along the way I did my best to learn. I learned that our very talented and creative KAAP staff works tirelessly on behalf of children and pediatricians. THANK YOU, Mel, Shanna, Amy and Martha. I learned that you can get through an entire Board of Director’s agenda in under three hours. THANK YOU, KAAP Board of Directors. I learned pediatricians don’t always agree but we share a dedication to the health and well-being of all children. THANK YOU for the opportunity to serve. And I learned that no matter what else I may be called, wife, mother, daughter, teacher, colleague, or friend, I am a Pediatrician. THANK YOU.