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April 5, 2020
Rutgers Health billboard thanking health care workers


Dear Colleagues:

It is impossible to adequately express the pride THIS UNIVERSITY feels for all of you, who are currently in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century. The response of the RBHS community has been inspiring, in the face of the understandable and natural fear for your own well-being and for that of your families. Your heartfelt efforts have been heard around the State of New Jersey and beyond. The gratitude inspired by your relentless and selfless efforts to combat COVID-19 will continue to set new benchmarks in collegiality, ingenuity, innovation, and compassion. Despite weariness and uncertainty, everyone in the RBHS community: faculty, staff, and students – especially our health care providers, researchers, and clinical staff – has rallied to advance our cause, and we are humbled by your dedication and strength. You have faced this crisis with courage and determination while coping with the burden of protecting yourselves and your loved ones.

We know the past few weeks have been grueling for many, and sadly the days and weeks immediately ahead look to offer no relief. Unfortunately, we are feeling the expected surge in patient volume. Several hospitals in the state have already reached maximum status, at least transiently, and cases in New Jersey are still projected to grow further in the coming days, as the pandemic peaks. There is much work ahead, but we are prepared, and our actions are saving lives.

We are dedicated to the care of the sick and injured and the pursuit of excellence. Graduation dates for our medical and pharmacy students have been advanced to allow them to join the fight, and other schools and programs will follow. Our science is leading the charge to discover better approaches and Rutgers continues to invest in these endeavors: augmenting COVID-19 research to expedite diagnosis, developing new tools for diagnosis, learning more about the natural history of this disease and its effects on healthcare workers, and uncovering possible treatments. Additionally, we are exhausting all procurement and philanthropic opportunities to gather the supplies we need. Our community members have even redeployed previously unaligned resources to manufacture additional PPE and establish equipment decontamination processes.

During this difficult time we continue to look for more ways to support you and highlight benefits that can ease your burden. We have developed a health care provider-specific webpage to share guidance, wellness tips, and other resources to supplement the information already shared on the websites of many of our schools concerning testing protocols, PPE use, telemedicine updates, and more.

While the rest of society works to “flatten the curve” and try to make your work more feasible, your valiant efforts are already saving lives. We must sustain each other, work as one, and keep an eye toward brighter days ahead. We cannot thank you enough for your understanding, continued support, and commitment as we face these challenging times together.

Wishing you good health—which has never had more meaning.

Vicente Gracias, MD
Senior Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Vice President Health Affairs, Rutgers University

Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Rutgers University