After the Crisis

For many of us, the past few months have been among the most trying of our lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a public health crisis the likes of which haven’t been seen in a hundred years. Those of us in the healthcare industry are confronting severe shortages of N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment, and doctors, nurses, first responders, and other essential workers are experiencing high levels of stress and fatigue.

The pandemic has also brought about what is likely to be a prolonged recession, with businesses across the world shutting down to enforce social distancing. Our members are among those feeling the economic consequences of these painful but necessary measures to defeat COVID-19. As I write this, my final president’s message, in early April, I hope that the worst will be over by the time you read it, but most experts were expecting the virus to be with us for several more weeks, if not months.
While an end to the pandemic is not yet in sight, I am encouraged by the way our profession is responding to the crisis. Some occupational health and safety professionals are playing vital roles in implementing CDC’s interim guidance for extended use and reuse of respirators, while others are assisting with procedures for decontaminating respirators, thereby extending the supplies of PPE. Within AIHA, many volunteers from across our diverse profession have collaborated in recent weeks on COVID-19-related guidance documents, webinars, articles, and other resources. On Catalyst, members are providing prompt, enlightening answers to their colleagues’ questions about the coronavirus. These contributions are excellent reminders that so many creative, dedicated professionals are working to bring this crisis to an end.
Our members will need new resources, new education, and new tools to find their way in a changed professional landscape. 
, CIH, is AIHA president and director of Global Regulatory Affairs at Sherwin Williams in Cleveland, Ohio.

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And when it does end, the world will look very different. Our members will need new resources, new education, and new tools to find their way in a changed professional landscape. AIHA has been helping our members meet their evolving professional needs for more than 80 years, and we will remain committed to honoring that legacy in the new, post-pandemic world. This month, AIHA will release its triannual member needs survey, our single most comprehensive tool for soliciting feedback from our members. The survey represents a timely opportunity for you to share your opinions on what AIHA can do to help you through the present crisis and beyond.  Because the results of the member needs survey will inform our program of work for the foreseeable future, the survey will address a broad range of AIHA activities. But it will also include a question that asks for specific suggestions about how we can help you at this unique time. While we look forward to the responses, you don’t need to wait for the survey to share your feedback. You can send your thoughts and ideas at any time
via email
Even under normal circumstances, I would want my last
column to express my deep gratitude to all of you for the important work you do to protect worker health. I look forward to the return to normalcy, but I also appreciate what our profession is achieving at such a difficult time. While the fears and setbacks of the last few months have taken their toll, I will always remember the pride I feel as our community meets this challenge.