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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Juvare Reflections on Thanksgiving

thank you sign surrounded by pumpkins and other thanksgiving decor

by: Akshay Birla

It’s hard to not be contemplative at this time of the year on a regular year, but 2020 certainly takes that to a whole new level. As we continue to process the year that has been and look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel, there is a lot to be grateful for. Mostly these are the unsung heroes who have saved lives in ways that we may not ever be able to account for.

Medical Volunteers.

In response to COVID-19 almost every state requested for help from licensed medical professionals. Across the United States this year we saw an exponential growth in the number of people that volunteered to serve their communities, or even to travel to other communities that needed help. Many of our CORES RMS clients received more volunteers this year than in the last decade combined. Some sites experienced over 50 million hits over the course of a single day – people raising their hands to help. The data is humbling to see and validates our shared humanity.

Volunteer Coordinators.

Volunteers are only as helpful as the infrastructure to harness their power. With a small staff, volunteer coordinators processed more volunteers – running them through background checks, providing appropriate credentials and orientation, and assigning them to organizations this year – than they could possibly have expected. We’re proud the small part our technology played in making it easier and scalable, but our pride is dwarfed by the inspiration from these people.

The Lone Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.

At most organizations, preparing for a pandemic has been an annual academic exercise for the last decade. Someone had to be the brave voice in an organization to ensure preparedness was built into the DNA. When COVID-19 spread, organizations were prepared because a small handful of people routinely preached and practiced resilience. Their drills may not have been for COVID-19 exactly, but they built the muscle memory to enable faster response.

Public Health Information Coordinators.

Outside our industry, many people have no idea of how much work it takes to ensure that policy makers have the data that they need to make informed decisions. Even with the federal government’s ability to compel data submission, it has been the one or two person PHEP coordinator in most states that has been responsible for ensuring that our country has the appropriate data to understand and respond to the pandemic. These are the magicians behind the scenes that ensure that the rest of us have pretty graphs and bar charts to make good decisions.

Rabble Rousers.

Whether they are bureaucrats who put a lifetime of credibility behind implementing transformational projects in the middle of the pandemic because they knew there was a better way to distribute PPE or to collect real-time data, or they were Twitterati who watched the numbers like a hawk and called out funky data, there were leaders at the intersection of technology, data, and people who rebuilt large swaths of our public response infrastructure in a manner that will make us more resilient in the future.

We are not through COVID-19 but there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We would not be where we are, or ever make it to where we’re going without the hard work and dedication of these and so many other people. At Juvare, we are Thankful we get to work alongside these heroes in times of crisis and emergency.

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