Notes from Jan

Matt Matters

March 17, 2020

 

Just so you know,  I meant Matt not math, and it’s personal but I hope you’ll continue reading.  However, to confuse you further, I really like Andrew Yang’s lapel pin  MATH: Make America Think Harder.  This is a time to think harder  while we scrub longer.

LIFE’S CHANGED

The Covid-19 virus changed our way of living,  seemingly overnight, and mandates distancing ourselves to combat this hidden enemy. While we isolate,  we dare not insulate ourselves from our hurting world and planet.  A tenacious virus compels us to consider the health and well-being of  we,  since it’s not just about me or you. We’re also challenged  to think hard about what we value, who we care about and how we allocate funds.  This heightened focus on we  brings me back to Dr. Matthew Willis.  Matt represents one of many who serve in the often undervalued and underfunded area of Public Health.

A STORY TO TELL

It happened about twenty years ago in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Matt, my son-in-love, sat with a small, diverse group of graduate students on their  side of the aisle.  All were about to receive an advanced degree. Matt and his cadre anticipated a  Master’s Degree in Public Health.   Public health matters, as we’re late in learning.   An MPH credentialed some internationals in Matt’s class to return to their countries as the voice of public health.

Across the aisle, rows of men and women awaited their MBA from Harvard’s prestigious School of Business. What took place next symbolized, for me,  the aisle-wide divide between rich and poor.  Some called it a tradition, I can only hope it was a last minute attempt at humor, and I love to laugh.  After they announced the degrees  for a Master of Public Health, some on the MBA side of the aisle folded, then hurled dollar bills. They flew like paper airplanes across a great divide.

WHO CARES?

Today, Matt joins multiplied thousands of  men and women, serving on the front lines of public health.  Their positions require making  tough decisions regarding prevention and the spread of disease.   They’re women and men, trained as scientists,  technicians, administrators, elected officials, doctors, nurses, aides, and volunteers, working  to defend us.   They’re  also an undervalued band of immigrants who do the  laundry, clean surfaces and haul away refuse and biological hazards, All  for the public’s health.

In times like these, it’s important to pray for and appreciate some of our real live action figures.  Too many, this day or night, will try to catch a few winks of sleep at odd hours, scrub already raw hands, then do the work they’re called or paid to do without recognition or thanks, with one exception.

Thank you, Matt.

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply Shirley Westrate March 17, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Jan—For a couple of years in early retirement, I wrote grants for the Clearwater Free Clinic here in Florida. The Clinic is run by modestly-paid professionals and generous volunteers who provide free health care for working people without health insurance. What an education those years were for me. Yes, thanks to your Matt. And thanks to every health care worker who sacrifices to keep US healthy and strong not only on these extraordinary days but also on every other day.
    God bless them, every one.

  • Reply Gail MacDonald March 17, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    Yes, thank you to Matt, who knows his priorities, and whatever he puts his hand to prospers. His wife and children have always come first. As a physician, his training was the best, but over and around these is his peerless character which drives all he does. Being able to be in Public Health for as long as he has, with purpose and devotion is all part of his dogged determination. to make a difference. Thank you Matt! For the decades we have known you, these things have been true. Well done!

  • Reply Dale March 17, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    My colleagues here at the UM medical school are placing themselves in harms way each day. They deserve our appreciation and need our prayers. In my 41 years here, this is the most stressed I have seen them. They want to care for everyone and are doing this knowing the risks to them and their families.

    Thanks for reminder.

    Blessings, Dale

  • Reply Sharon Wolgemuth March 17, 2020 at 11:50 pm

    Thank you Jan for this good reminder of our public health servants that sacrifice so much , just doing the job they were trained for and called to. They certainly deserve our appreciation and thanks.

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