As former assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the US Department of Health and Human Services, Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, has learned that the key to a successful crisis response is having a plan and strong day-to-day systems in place before disaster strikes.
“If your day-to-day system is strong, you are going to do better than if it is not—coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is no exception,” Lurie said during the Kidney Week 2020 Reimagined session “Policy in a Post-COVID World.” Lurie gave the Christopher Blagg, MD, endowed lecture in Kidney Diseases and Public Policy during the session. She co-chairs the ASN’s Emergency Partnership Initiative.
Although the lack of a national plan has hindered the COVID-19 response, Lurie said disaster planning for dialysis patients by dialysis organizations and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) has helped the nephrology community rapidly respond to the high rates of acute kidney injury in COVID-19 patients. Some governors and local leaders have provided “exemplary leadership,” and frontline caregivers and institutions like academic medical centers also have heroically stepped up to lead, she said.
“Crises can bring out the best in people,” she said. “One of the things I’ve seen with the kidney response and with ASN and frankly in many of our communities is just how much it has brought out the best in people.”
Lurie and her fellow panelists say now is the time to start addressing policy challenges like systemic racism, a weakened public health system, and immigration policies that harm international medical graduates who have played an essential role in delivering care during the pandemic.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” Lurie said. “This is really the time for us to be thinking about the way we want the world to look and the way we want kidney care to look going forward.”
Alarcón GS. Predictive factors of high disease activity over time. Ann Rheum Dis 2006; 65:1168–1174. doi: 10.1136/ard.200X.046896