Trust and Transparency

On January 1, 2021, I accepted the position of president of University of Michigan Health. Although I've been at U-M since joining the Medical School faculty in 2008, this new role carries some uncertainty. It is daunting to lead a large health system with thousands of team members that treats the highest acuity and most complex patients across the state. But it's even more daunting in the midst of the most severe pandemic our country has seen in over a century.

Challenging situations fuel humility, which I felt deeply, as I knew the pandemic would continue despite the hope of new vaccines receiving FDA approval for emergency use. In my first days and weeks on the job, we were also developing and ramping up our vaccination program, which added yet another layer of complexity and a new level of time and energy demands for our team members and community.

As I look back, those days only became manageable by trusting and relying on our colleagues and teams to step up, think outside of the box, and solve new problems on a daily basis. Hundreds of people redeployed to a different role based on the greatest needs across the health system, and their teams stepped up to fill the void. Our subject matter experts shared knowledge and ensured transparency so we could further our understanding of the COVID-19 virus, and, more recently, of the multiple vaccines and their benefits and risks.

Months later, as we managed another surge of COVID-19 cases, the days remained intense, and uncertainty persisted. Nonetheless, I have been constantly amazed and encouraged as I work alongside my resilient colleagues. That sentiment is now accompanied by a small but growing sense of calm and confidence that persistent teamwork and mutual respect will reap solutions and relationships that supersede any of the struggles we face. I am resolved to focus on our mission, to advance health for Michigan and the world, and to serve all of our patients, COVID-19 and otherwise.

While the future of health care still holds many unknowns, the pandemic has reinforced our critical need, even during a crisis, to remain true to the most basic fundamentals that will best serve our patients: caring and teamwork that supports equitable access to health care, safety and quality, and a positive experience.

David C. Miller, M.D., M.P.H.
President, U-M Health
Executive Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs, U-M Medical School

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