Leadership

From the Frontlines

Wesley Burks, M.D., dean of UNC School of Medicine, vice chancellor for medical affairs and CEO of UNC Health, shares how students, faculty and researchers are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wesley Burks, M.D., dean of UNC School of Medicine, vice chancellor for medical affairs and CEO of UNC Health, shares how students, faculty and researchers are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dear Friends,

The last few weeks have been incredibly challenging for all of us. We have all had to make changes in the ways we live, work and even interact with each other. While staying at home and maintaining physical distancing are difficult sacrifices, they are critical to our ability to fight the spread of COVID-19 in our state and around the world. During this difficult time, I hope that an update on how UNC Health and the UNC School of Medicine are responding to this ongoing crisis can offer some comfort and reassurance.

Since the onset of COVID-19, our goals have been to provide the very best patient care while also keeping our co-workers safe and healthy.

In March, I made a public call for donationsOpens in new window of personal protective equipment, a vital resource to allow our frontline health care providers to keep our patients — as well as each other — safe. I am truly humbled by the response. Community partners from all corners of our state and beyond — as well as individuals and families — answered the call. From truckloads of masks to bags and boxes of gloves and hand sanitizer, we are grateful for each and every donation. Thank you.

Additionally, as of April 15, our COVID-19 Response FundOpens in new window has received more than $1 million in gifts from incredible donors like you and a number of generous corporate partners. Partners such as Food Lion, based in Salisbury, North Carolina, have stepped up to invest in the life-savingOpens in new window COVID-19 researchOpens in new window taking place at Carolina. These gifts are providing critical funding for immediate needs: emergency child care for health care staff who are essential to the operation of our system; aid for vulnerable patients, families and caregivers suffering from additional loss of income due to the outbreak; and the development of promising treatments, protective vaccines and public health practices.

Research faculty from across the UNC School of Medicine are working tirelessly to help the world better understand the biology and transmission of the virus and to evaluate and test potential treatments for COVID-19. I feel confident in saying that the knowledge created here at UNC will play a pivotal role in ending this pandemic and in helping us all prepare for future crises.

Our students, despite having their spring semesters interrupted and clinical rotations suspended, are finding innovative ways to make a difference, including advising merchantsOpens in new window on how to better serve vulnerable customers, staffing COVID-19 hotlines to answer questions about the outbreak and partnering with Carolina’s BeAM makerspaceOpens in new window and experts from NC State and Duke to produce face shields to protect frontline workers. These acts are a testament to their character and their desire to serve. We are so proud to have these students as part of our UNC School of Medicine family.

I cannot say enough about the work of our clinical teams and the outstanding commitment they have shown to our patients and our communities. The work of our providers and front-line staff has truly been heroic and it is my privilege to work alongside them and all of our 33,000 UNC Health co-workers.

The UNC Health coronavirus web pageOpens in new window continues to be updated with important information. Please use it as a resource for you and your families in the days and weeks to come. We are all united in our efforts to fight against COVID-19, and we can manage this by working together. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Sincerely,

Wesley Burks, MD
CEO, UNC Health
Dean, UNC School of Medicine

Carolina on the Frontlines

UNC-Chapel Hill is on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. View the ways you can immediately support Carolina researchers, caregivers and students who drive change, accelerate impact and provide a future for us all.

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