Lab Matters Fall 2023 | Page 5


Managing Expectations … and Creating Opportunities

Scott Becker , MS Chief Executive Officer , APHL
... APHL will always take every opportunity to advocate for its members , and the resources they need to do their work .”
Part of APHL ’ s role as a member-driven association is to listen to our members and their experiences . Even though it may not seem like it for folks , we have emerged on the other side of a pandemic . For me , I feel and look different than in the “ before ” times . A few extra pounds , a few more wrinkles and more mature professionally . But one thing hasn ’ t changed for us : the desire to learn from our experiences and prepare for the next surge . The lessons we learned as laboratorians have become ingrained in our laboratories and our work . But they haven ’ t been inculcated into broader public health systems yet . Our wish may be to be more proactive in our approaches , but under newly manifested political pressures and challenges , it may seem like we are fighting an uphill battle . And we are .
In the past , we have always found innovative ways to do more with less . We always respond , no matter what . Yet , at the end of the day , everything we do as public health laboratories comes down to money — money that translates into reagents , equipment , technology , supplies and staff . We have just finished three plus years of pressure to deliver results and data , even faster than we had before .
And now we face an unprecedented funding recission . Not only are we going to have to pivot on how the work is done , but also managing the expectations of our partners and collaborators . It will be difficult for us to say “ we are unable to perform this test because of X , Y and Z .” But if we continue to be expected to do more with less , we will harm ourselves and our communities . Please know that APHL will always take every opportunity to advocate for its members , and the resources they need to do their work .
We are also working to make sure that the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic are not forgotten . Early in the pandemic , we realized that there was no widely accepted understanding of the national diagnostic system and how the different laboratory sectors work together in an emergency . Leaning on relationships we formed during the pandemic , we consulted with partners inside and outside government , academia , commercial laboratories , diagnostic manufacturers , regulators , CDC and others , to create a national diagnostic system “ playbook .” Working with The Pandemic Center at the Brown University School of Public Health and with funding support from the Peterson Foundation , we are developing a series of very practical documents that describe roles , responsibilities and best practices before and during a biological emergency . These documents build on the wealth of knowledge that was gained by public health professionals and their partners during the US pandemic response . Our hope is that it will be utilized by the new Pandemic Office within the Executive Branch and , even though we hope it will not need to be used , all our hard-won knowledge and experience will not just disappear into history .
As an association , we have also just completed the process of reviewing and updating our strategic map . Through a more concentrated process of review and reflection , I believe we have further distilled our objectives into true , actionable items that will support the work of our members — providing them with all the resources and guidance that they need to navigate their way over the cliff and into a more prepared landscape . You will note that the latest map is a two-year plan , which carries on some of the work of the past map . We will continue to engage members and find ways to allow the map to “ come alive ,” and support your important work . I had an “ aha ” moment when the Board met to refine this plan . It was this : what WERE we thinking when we created a plan in the fall of 2020 ? We had high hopes that the pandemic would soon wane , and we could get on with our work . But here we are , years later , picking up not where we left off , but in some ways in a better place because we are now able to see more clearly about what really matters to the members and the Association . g
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Fall 2023 LAB MATTERS 3