Annual Conference Discusses Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic


More than two and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of lessons to be learned. That’s what Minnesota physicians heard at the September 23 virtual Annual Conference.   

“We have a common issue,” said José T. Montero, MD, MHCDS, director, Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "We don’t know how to talk to elected officials.” He said that CDC leaders learned along the way that they tried to be “too perfect” and “too scientific” in the information they shared with the public. It resulted in confusion and mistrust. 

Glenda Eoyang, PhD, HSDP, led a spirited discussion on lessons learned with leaders from several healthcare organizations across the state. 

They also underestimated the “politicization of the pandemic,” said Health Commission Jan Malcolm, noting that although some leaders have declared the pandemic over, 400 people continue to die from it each day. “It’s the fourth leading cause of death.” She also pointed out that with each new booster that is rolled out, fewer people get shots.  

Both Montero and Malcolm emphasized the need to improve communications to better handle the next public health emergency.  

After Montero and Malcolm’s session, Glenda Eoyang, PhD, HSDP, the founder of the field of human systems dynamics, shared tools and techniques to help see patterns in chaos and how to react to them. She then led a panel discussion with Lori Bethke, MD, chief medical officer at Entira Family Clinics; Jennifer DeCubellis, chief executive officer at Hennepin Healthcare; Krista Skorupa, MD, CPE, division chair, regional practices at Essentia Health; Cindy Firkins Smith, MD, senior vice president, rural health at CentraCare; and Prathibha Varkey, MBBS, president at Mayo Clinic Health System. 

The panel also shared lessons learned as part of its discussion. Skorupa pointed out the “gift of COVID” and how the pandemic became a “change accelerator” for how medicine is practiced in Minnesota and across the country.  

The conference was sponsored by COPIC, Army Medical Professionals, Advanced Brain + Body Clinic, Ferring and Minnesota Disability Hub.  

A recording of the conference will be available in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to MMA News Now for details.