As a physician and public health advocate who took a lifelong professional oath to protect, defend, educate and support the patients I serve each day, I say that COVID-19 is real, COVID-19 can make you sick and COVID-19 causes death in the most vulnerable among us.
Nothing matters more to me than the life-long health and wellbeing of the children and adolescents that now, too, are under siege from this pandemic.
This virus is an equal opportunity attacker that does not care about what street you live on, how much money you make, how you voted in the last election or what age you are. These statements are fact—not opinion—and are not up for debate in the medical community in which I live and breathe.
The COVID-19 vaccine works—there is no doubt—and it is an amazing blessing that we can now offer it to younger and younger patients, but there remain those less than five years of age who, for now, are still vulnerable, still at risk and still need to be protected.
With the arrival of the Omicron variant, we are faced with even more unknowns and more anxiety around what may or may not happen.
Mask wearing in indoor public places is one such proven method of protection.
By protecting the forgotten, the immunocompromised, the youngest and the oldest, we all win in defense of our collective community health. We are all in this together to defeat this microscopic nemesis. Wearing a simple mask indoors in public spaces for the next two to three months is not, in my opinion, that much to ask.
I am not writing this to “challenge the right or freedom of personal choice” around the wearing of masks. I truly respect everyone who speaks their mind and shares their thoughts. My intention is to only show that I, too, cherish and value this access to freedom of speech and choice with every ounce of my being.
I am not going to defend the politics that has permeated into the discussion around what we do in our personal and professional lives and the decisions each of us make.
I wear my mask out of respect for those around me. Even as a fully vaccinated and boosted individual, I don’t know where your immune system is at the time we meet or interact.
I don’t even know what my own body is doing at any given time or place in terms of creating antibodies against all that we face, but if I can protect those around me by this small gesture, then I have done my bit to minimize my chances of passing this silent and deadly adversary on to someone else.
The wearing of masks is one small step to help knock down the spread, keep us safe and preserve our health. Especially with the cold winter months ahead, encouraging the ongoing use of masks is in strong support of this important tool in our toolbox to help continue to battle this virus.
About Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH), New Hampshire’s only academic health system and the state’s largest private employer, serves a population of 1.9 million across northern New England. D-HH provides access to more than 2,000 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH. DHMC was named again in 2020 as the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in 9 clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health includes the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state’s only children’s hospital; member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene, and New London, NH, and Windsor, VT, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and 24 Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. The D-HH system trains nearly 400 residents and fellows annually, and performs world-class research, in partnership with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT.
As New Hampshire's only full-service, comprehensive children's hospital, the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth‐Hitchcock (CHaD) is committed to providing outstanding compassionate care for children and their families. Their physician expertise provides primary, specialty, and tertiary care to the children of New Hampshire, Vermont, and beyond. CHaD offers inpatient (hospital care) and outpatient (same day care) services at Dartmouth‐Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH. Outpatient and same-day surgery services are available at Dartmouth‐Hitchcock Manchester. Primary care is available at Dartmouth‐Hitchcock facilities in Bedford, Concord, Keene, Lebanon, Manchester, and Nashua, NH, and Bennington, VT. For more information about CHaD, please visit www.chadkids.org or contact us at 603-650‐KIDS or firstname.lastname@example.org.