Is Massive Social Unrest the Next Healthcare Crisis?

By | October 22, 2020

As strong leaders, we strive to improve upon each situation and anticipate the next steps. There are numerous scenarios, particularly in acute situations in which our advanced preparation is vital for the operation’s success. Frequently, these are short-lived and are dependent on location, such as weather, earthquakes, fires, etc. As shown, with COVID 19, Ebola, and other recent infectious etiologies, it’s imperative to be diligent with pandemic preparedness. Furthermore, mass casualty drills occur on a routine basis.

However, beyond these scenarios, we are now moving into an extremely troubling area of preparedness needs and social unrest. Yes, there are always situations that we must elevate our thinking when people disagree, such as in situations of mass shootings and protests, yet, we are now finding ourselves having to deliberate on these items on a greater scale, while concurrently fighting a pandemic.

In reality, we are fighting two pandemics simultaneously, one that is physiologic and the other that is psychological. Unfortunately, both are deadly. Moreover, we are currently witnessing both a virus “eat” our bodies, and social injustice “devour” our souls and bodies. No doubt that differences of opinion make us stronger as a country. However, when these qualities of thought advance to situations of violence and tribalism, the future is bleak.

As health care providers, our primary purpose is to provide care; hence, this impacts us on multiple levels. How do we provide for the holistic needs of the individuals we serve? Are we going to become as polarized as our fellow countrymen, and only treat those with whom we identify? How does one prepare for all eventualities?

Situational preparedness requires us to scenario play, and unfortunately, massive social unrest is becoming more of a reality. We must remember that these factors are not just external to our organizations, but internal as well. Regardless of our ideologies, it is essential to remember that we are in a profession with a higher calling. Yes, we can disagree and discuss, but it is most important that we come together and rise above for the betterment of all.

As the proud father of two incredibly intelligent sons (no doubt, from their mother’s side), I have had the privilege of listening to them analyze and react to the current environment. They are incredibly attuned to the present concerns and are exceptionally insightful and intuitive. In fact, early during COVID, we had numerous conversations in which they explained to me their beliefs in the likelihood of social unrest amplifying during this time.  I believe their predictions are at risk of coming to fruition.

Even today, my two sons continue to carry on deep discussions over the “civil war” the country is in and whether it will be a “cold” war or a more physical situation, a combat war. With either scenario, as healthcare providers here for individuals regardless of their beliefs, we must prepare for all eventualities. Undoubtedly, we can overcome any dilemma laid at our feet; however, realizing all potential possibilities is the first step. Let us not turn a blind eye to what might happen; instead, let us come together to try and prevent. Let us prepare.