UC Davis Health is looking at the opportunities created by the challenges of the last few months, and finding ways to step up our delivery of world-class care and the discovery of life changing knowledge for our patients and communities. This sense of humanity and discovery defines everything we do as an academic medical center as we confront this global health challenge and fight against other disparate health equity outcomes in communities.

This issue of the UC Davis Health magazine spotlights some of those COVID-19 results and equity efforts. For example, we’ve partnered closely with Sacramento County Public Health to provide our testing and resources to support outreach in Black and Latinx communities (which are among the hardest hit population groups in this crisis), and within group-living facilities (which have accounted for as much as 40% of COVID-19 deaths nationally). Other articles look at interesting alums, such as a New York City emergency room doctor, and California’s surgeon general Nadine Burke Harris. This issue also includes inspiring student profiles — all children of immigrants — and a memorable tribute to the late F. William Blaisdell, founder of modern trauma care and namesake of our library on the Sacramento campus.

Our teams across UC Davis Health have worked hard to be at the forefront of our nation’s efforts to understand and deal with COVID-19. We treated the first hospitalized case of community spread COVID-19 in the United States. What we discovered in those early days led to the Centers for Disease Control changing its testing protocols, and to UC Davis Health becoming one of the first large-scale rapid testing hubs designated by the state.

We’re pushing research forward to find more effective patient treatments to better manage the pandemic and ultimately, we’re working to find a vaccine. We recently started collaborating in a significant nationwide clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine. UC Davis Health is uniquely positioned to help with a possible breakthrough due to our clinical trials expertise, ability to recruit for clinical trials quickly, and historic track record of outreach to minority communities.

Our concern for the less-privileged among us is central to our mission at UC Davis Health. In the past several months, we’ve witnessed as a nation the profound problem of racial injustice unfolding all around us in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Here at UC Davis Health, we’ve seen firsthand the tragic outcomes of these wrongful social dynamics in our hospital, emergency rooms, and clinics. We mourn the lost lives and violence against minorities, and we strive to heal the physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds of racial injustice in all that we do as an institution.

We have a strong research track record on examining the inequities brought about by social determinants such as poverty, food scarcity, and lack of educational opportunities in underserved neighborhoods. As an Anchor Institution, we will focus on our surrounding community and create new economic, educational and job opportunities related to our organization. We have big plans to invest in this mission’s health services connections, which is critical for our adjacent neighborhoods.

This is a time to deeply listen to each other, as health practitioners must do when they first talk to a patient to learn about what ails them. We must first understand the hurt and anguish — and then we must act to address this with determination, consistency, and love. Our quest is to confront racism honestly and strive relentlessly for health equity and justice for all.

A core belief at UC Davis Health is that each person who walks through the doors of the medical center is a very special and unique person. Equitable access to quality health care is an important yardstick of an advanced, democratic society.

Our “uplifting” as a health system is manifested in our patient-focused care as we all work together to create a healthier and better world. We have so much to look forward to, as this issue compellingly demonstrates.