Interim Ped Chair Update

Colleagues and Friends

Yesterday we took the first step towards a “new normal” as UF Health hospitals and outpatient practices in Gainesville resumed elective surgeries and procedures.   We are gradually transitioning back to face-to-face outpatient appointments, knowing that the landscape has changed, and telehealth is here to stay. 

Our research enterprise is gearing up to gradually reopen labs and see clinical research participants again. Members of Congress have asked for $26 billion in funding (attached) to support graduate students, postdocs, principal investigators, and other technical support staff who are at risk of losing their employment.  If approved, it also would cover operational costs for keeping research laboratories and other facilities running until they can return to pre-pandemic levels.

Education remains a critically important mission of our Department.  Through calls and Zoom meetings we have engaged with future interns.  While we lament the loss of traditional graduation ceremonies, we are exploring creative and memorable ways to celebrate the hard work and achievements of our graduating senior residents, chief residents, and fellows.

Please find the very impressive CMN Dance Marathon wrap up (attached) which evinces heroic efforts to successfully pivot from a live to a virtual event.  Equally astonishingly, four Dance Marathon students from our hospital market were tapped for the coveted class of 25 nationwide recipients for the 2020 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award. 

Now almost 3 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, our powers of endurance are tested. Endurance, a combination of determination and tenacity, is a balance of inner strength, patience, flexibility and persistence. We have bonded to so many like none before and this bonding will endure us well. Like you, I feel like we are balancing a tight rope between protecting ourselves and our patients, staying resilient (I really miss live sports), and finding ways of maintaining the economy. 

The “new normal” will bring less restrictions, but increased testing and contact tracing. The lack of data to understand COVID-19 makes planning difficult. Does recovery from COVID-19 grant immunity or can you be reinfected, or even still infect others?  Do tiny particles expelled in breath infect more people than the large droplets released from coughing? Is it really possible to become infected by touching a contaminated surface before touching your face? If it is, how long can the virus survive on different surfaces? Why isCOVID-19 more deadly to older people and those with underlying health conditions, while younger children are seemingly more protected? We need to understand the role of viral load, receptors innate and adaptive immunity and genetic factors.

These unprecedented times have been unbelievably difficult – and the future is uncertain.  But as a Department we are ready to fight for what we believe, persevering toward productive goals, expressed in a constructive manner. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, ”What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  Certainly, compassion “lies within” our Department, exemplified by the many who serve the Alachua County community outside of your regular work.  As previously requested, please document your volunteer work with a photo (while abiding by all safety recommendations) and send it to our marketing manager, Lauren Gajda, at so we can share on our website and social media channels using #UFPedsRelief.

I feel privileged to work in this Department. I strongly believe in the words of C.S. Lewis one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century `There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind’

Desmond Schatz, MD
Professor and Interim Chair
UF Department of Pediatrics