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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Why COVID-19 Brings Out the Best in Us

March 30th, 2020

Over the past two weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives dramatically, both professionally and personally. I want to express my deepest appreciation for all of you, who have been so dedicated to problem-solving the very complex and difficult challenges this situation creates for our patients, our work force, and our community. I can’t thank you enough for your contributions that allow us to continue operations and care for all of our patients, while keeping our workforce as safe as possible.

Through this time of crisis, I have heard many inspiring stories that reflect the spirit and commitment of the Michigan Medicine community. So many of you have stepped up, introduced innovation in a time of adversity, and demonstrated the leadership that has allowed us to come together and plan for the worst, hoping for better. Here are a few examples that reflect the true spirit of Michigan Medicine in the toughest times:   

Students from the College of Pharmacy are working alongside our Pharmacy staff to compound Michigan Medicine’s own hand sanitizer at a rate of 200-300 bottles per day. They will continue as long as they can source the ingredients.

More than 300 nurses have volunteered and are staffing the regional infectious containment unit (RICU), a special unit that has been created to care for COVID-19 patients, and prioritizing the needs of these vulnerable patients.

The Command Center has been open since March 11, and key players have come together every day to manage the rapidly changing environment and assess evolving operational needs. 

More than 2,000 employees have volunteered for redeployment to areas that need the most support and help. This is the true meaning of teamwork.

The community has also recognized that our health care workers are the true heroes in this pandemic. There has been an outpouring of support, including donations of over 24,000 masks and nearly 140,000 gloves, among other critical supplies. Our philanthropic friends are also off to a great start, already contributing $265,000 to the very recently established COVID-19 Philanthropy Fund.   

This crisis has the ability to drain our resources and drive tension into every aspect of our organization; it could easily fracture and break us. Instead, it gives us moments to find strength and be our best. Why?

Because we are a community built on a foundation of caring, learning and innovation. This foundation framed our history and it will guide our future. We know how to respond when people are in need. It’s what we do, and for that I am eternally grateful.   

Each department and unit across the organization has done a remarkable job of stepping up and going the extra mile. Our work looks different now, and will continue to test us at each pivotal milestone and decision point. We have many more difficult days ahead of us, but I know we will get through them together.  My deepest thanks to all of you, an exceptional and inspiring group of professionals, bringing their best. These times prove it.  

What examples can you give that shows how Covid-19 has brought out the best in us? Please share them in the comment box below. 


  • Mark R. Neumann

    Hospital maintenance, Bio-med, Skilled trades, maintenance mechanics, and environmental services have worked in unison prepping units for Covid-19 patients. Including C&W 12
    RICU, University Hospital 8A, 6C, 6A, level 1 short stay and C&W 2A.

    • Marschall Runge

      Mark, thank you for drawing attention to the people working in these professions. Many assume that when we say, “Hail to the Frontline,” we are just talking about clinical personnel. Our service to the community goes so much deeper than that. These workers who help us set up our specialized COVID-19 environments are working under equally risky conditions. Let’s not forget to thank them for all their efforts.

  • I am very disappointing people in the leadership position on this campus are not addressing increasing concerns from Asian faculty/staff members about xenophobic reactions on them happening across the country. See this NYT article from yesterday for “How Asian-American Leaders Are Grappling With Xenophobia Amid Coronavirus”.

    • Marschall Runge

      Thank you for expressing your concerns and sharing the NYT article. I agree it is disappointing when we see this type of behavior happening around the country. Here at Michigan Medicine we don’t tolerate or condone behaviors and labels that are xenophobic, and we continue to make every effort to encourage inclusion and discourage disrespectful behaviors. It is more important than ever, during challenging times like these, to treat each other with compassion, continue to be patient, and assume good intent.

  • Mary Kay Downs BSN

    My Care Management co-workers have pulled together to support each other and work tirelessly as a group to facilitate discharges in order to open beds, assist our patients to be home with the services they need in order to be out of the hospital, and to facilitate transfers to the appropriate level of care, while keeping our focus on patients and families!

    • Marschall Runge

      You make a wonderful point, Mary Kay. We could not continue to provide exceptional care under these challenging times if not for the Care Management team which supports our continuum of care, by improving the coordination of all our services. They have done so much to reduce hospital length of stay and re-admissions, which is critical at this time.

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