Advice for a pediatrician: the importance of having a grateful heart


The coronavirus epidemic has proven to be a very challenging time for all of us.  However, we must never forget the commitment which health care professionals demonstrate every day in caring for our communities, especially during such times of dire need.  From nurses to physicians, respiratory therapists to pharmacists, and the administrative personnel that support and guide them, the dedication of our front-line staff in the hospitals and clinics throughout our region cannot be taken for granted.  I invite you to take the time during your next medical visit to say a sincere “thank you” to the team of health care professionals that are risking their own well-being to care for you and your family.

Let’s also have grateful hearts for the teachers and educational administrators who are working to institute virtual instruction for our children, for the churches that are operating food pantries to provide for those in greatest need, for the care managers who are helping to ensure people get their medical supplies, and for the concerned neighbors who keep checking on us all.  As we continue with the necessary and responsible act of “social distancing,” we must also endeavor to leverage the technology surrounding us to effectively communicate with our immediate families, and may we never forget to reach out to our extended families and international loved ones.  We can, of course, just as easily use a pen and paper to write an old-fashioned letter or simple greeting card to our dearest friends and neighbors.  The world has become a smaller place thanks to local and global communication technology, and it is imminently clear how much we all need each other during times like these.

Parents, please take advantage of this incredible opportunity to spend quality time with your children.  You are always the most effective examples and teachers for your children.  Everyone’s routine has been disrupted, but we can all adapt through patience, humility, and love.  Let’s model these traits for our children, our neighbors, and our world.  If you are working from home, while balancing many personal responsibilities and priorities, please continue to do your best work, because your professional team is still depending on you.  Be grateful for the roof over your head, for the bread on your table, and for the blessing of your own health.  During an unprecedented pandemic such as COVID-19, it is our positive, stalwart, personal, and corporate attitudes that can make such a difference!

I am challenging our community to continue honoring and practicing the core values that make us so unique and special.  Kindness, dedication, and perseverance.  Please never forget that our children are always watching, always observing, and they are inevitably learning how to face life’s greatest challenges from us.  Every decision we make, every behavior we model, every kindness we show, has a lasting impact.  Be the example you longed for when you were a child.  Live in a way today that you will not regret if you are blessed with a tomorrow.  Let’s be grateful for what we have been given. This moment, this present, this today, and the experiences and memories it has been built upon are all worthy reasons to be thankful.

Johanna Vidal Phelan is a pediatrician.

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