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Hope for a Better New Year

December 31, 2020
by Mark David Siegel

“If we want 2021 to be better, we will have to make it better ourselves.”

-Wajahat Ali, The New York Times, What Makes You Think 2021 Will Be Better?

Hi everyone,

Here’s what I learned in 2020: hope is ours to create. If we desire democracy, get out the vote. If we seek social justice, march. If we want a kinder, more compassionate world, lead by example.

As 2021 dawns, our most urgent hope is to see the end of COVID-19: to get everyone back to work and school, to visit our families, to share meals, and to hug the people we love. We want to re-open research labs and treat patients whose care was delayed by the pandemic. We want to welcome visitors back to the hospital. Most of all, we want to stop losing patients to this dreadful disease.

We’ve come this far because of work already accomplished. We have life-saving vaccines because of the discoveries of brilliant scientists. We know how to stay safe because infectious disease and public health experts showed us how SARS CoV-2 is spread. We’ve learned how to improve survival because critical care teams showed the value of evidence-based therapies. Millions of lives were saved, and immeasurable suffering averted, because experts across disciplines collaborated on everything from treatment protocols to ethics guidelines to PPE distribution to compassionate end-of-life care.

Our work is far from over, not just because our hospitals remain full and we have hundreds of millions left to vaccinate. We’ll need more than innovative treatments and vaccines to defeat COVID-19, let alone future public health crises. We’ll have to battle ingrained social factors like poverty, structural racism, and a poorly coordinated national health system. We’ll have to combat disdain for science and expertise. We’ll have to build a society that prioritizes the greater good over the desires of the individual.

So, as we say good-bye (or good riddance) to 2020, let’s unite in our hope for a better 2021, not because some magical power will descend to rescue us, but because we’ve acquired the knowledge, skills, and determination we need to save ourselves.

Wishing everyone a happy, safe, and healthy 2021.


A collection of New Year’s Hopes:

In 2021, I look forward to meeting up with friends and loved ones in person after getting the vaccine! And, I look forward to someday being able to have patient families at bedside again, and someday forgoing all the COVID visitor limitations, especially for the patients at the end of their life who need all the love their families can give them, in person.

-Anna Qian, PGY1

I am hopeful for a healthier, safer year in 2021- one where we can all hug the people we love.

-Samantha Magier, PGY2

I am most hopeful for people trusting each other more than distrusting each other. Forming relationships and building good will with each other and among groups so that the next time we have a disaster (and we will), the screaming rhetoric ceases and we can actually work together.

-Deborah Proctor, Digestive Diseases

I am hopeful that I will be able to go back to talking to my patients in person and with neither of us wearing a mask.

-Michael Nathanson, Digestive Diseases

I’m hopeful that the next year, finally, after going through all these hardships, we finally find out who killed Tupac and Biggie. I hope that humor brings our wounded souls back together.

-Hassan Mirbolouk, PGY2

I am hoping for more togetherness, more celebrations, more parties, more access to Clorox products, more time to browse in stores, more indoor dining, and less need for masks .

-Manisha Juthani-Mehta, APD and Infectious Diseases

The comfortable noise and laughter that accompanies friends and family around the table with good food.

-Paul Bernstein, APD and General Internal Medicine

I look forward to so many things in 2021 that I even feel guilty for asking for too much. First, I hope that we have massive COVID-19 vaccination around the world, and hopefully we are able to begin to see the end of this pandemic. I also wish I am able to go home to see my little brother graduate from Law School and spend my dad’s 68th birthday with him. I hope my family and loved ones stay healthy and safe. I look forward to finally getting to hang out with my amazing co-interns and seniors. I also hope I am able to constantly make the most out of the opportunity to be a part of this program, and I wish I continue to learn from everyone I meet, to grow both professionally and personally.

I am so thankful for the good and bad things that 2020 brought, and I consider myself tremendously lucky for closing up the year with health, love from my family and support from this program. Thank you so, so much Dr. Siegel for welcoming me into this wonderful new family away from home!

-Natalia Tijaro Ovalle, PGY1

Hopeful for more clinic elective experiences in a post-covid season, and looking forward to the next generation of interns who will ask us what it was like when we were in their shoes!

-Isabel Ilagan-Ying, PGY1

In 2021 I am hoping there are countless things I am hoping for, but the most realistic…more fun in the snow. I can't wait to finally use my skis and go on more snowy hikes

-Cecily Allen, PGY1

I am hopeful that out this catastrophic pandemic, meaningful progress can be made to address the healthcare issues highlighted by COVID in building a better system that provides equitable, effective, and quality care to our communities.

-Luke Legakis, PGY1

For 2021, I am most hopeful that I will continue to hone my skills as an intern and develop into a successful senior resident for a new class of certainly stellar interns. I am also hopeful that I will soon be able to safely explore all that New Haven.

-Lou Levine, PGY1

I’m not a very religious person, but I can’t help but think about the end of the Passover Seder when we say, “Next year in Jerusalem.” To me, that’s always meant may we leave the suffering of the past behind and hope for wholeness and healing in our future. The sentiment is so fitting as we start 2021. I hope in this new year we can heal as a community and (finally!!!) celebrate/welcome our wonderful interns in person!!!!

-Andrea Roberts, PGY2

I am hopeful we will emerge from the pandemic stronger and with a greater appreciation of what is important in our lives. I am hopeful I will get to safely hang out with my co-interns/residents in a non-virtual fashion. I am hopeful we will be able to produce enough vaccine to protect everyone, especially our most vulnerable populations. I am hopeful that soon this will all feel like a bad dream.

-Jessica Petrov, PGY1

Im hoping for the understanding worldwide of the importance of vaccination and reallyyyy hoping to hug and gather in person with friends and family, I really miss it!

-Maria Diaz Soto, PGY3

I am hopeful that the vaccine will kick the virus in the ass, that enough people in our country will be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, and that we will be able to imagine a return to normal.

-Peter Natov, PGY1

I am most hopeful that I will be able to spend some meaningful time in person (outside of work!) with all my friends and co-residents before moving away from New Haven this summer.

-Tom Holowka, PGY3

I’m hopeful for not being afraid to visit my family or host my friends.

I’m hopeful for restaurants and movie nights and coffee shops and bookstores.

I’m hopeful for patients to have family visitors.

I’m hopeful for in person teaching and retreats and arts night and generally getting to know my fellow residents face to face (even if it’s with masks on).

I’m hopeful for facial expressions and hugs.

I’m even hopeful for maybe, just maybe, by the end of the year perhaps, seeing a Broadway show with my mom.

-Natasha Freeman, PGY1

In 2021, I’m hopeful for togetherness, visible smiles, and democracy.

-Ramya Kaushik, PGY1

I'm hopeful for a year that we leave the worst parts of 2020 behind and take the hard earned lessons to make 2021 full of healing, rekindled relationships, and joie de vivre.

-Michael Mankbadi, PGY2

This year I am hopeful we will get to spend more time with one another as a residency program outside of the hospital and beyond zoom. I am hopeful I can eat inside of a few favorite New Haven restaurants with friends before I move. I am hopeful I will be able to see my family without fear of infecting them. I am hopeful for science, these new vaccines, and that enough of the world or country will want to get vaccinated. I am hopeful for the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

-Natalie Mackow, PGY3

There are so many of them, I don’t know where to start!! I’m hopeful that covid will disappear (one may hope!), and everyone will be able to spend happy times around family and friends. I hope the hearts of those who got affected by tragedy of this year will be filled with peace and calm. I wish everyone many, many bright and positive days in 2021!

-Golsa Joodi, PGY3

I am hopeful that in 2021 the world will come alive again. I hope that we can once again see friends and family without use of a webcam and laptop screen. I hope that we can travel again and explore new horizons. I hope that our country will recover from the last presidency and reverse some of that damage that it has done. Most importantly, I hope that I can finally meet my entire intern class in person.

-Nischay Rege, PGY1

I hope we manage to contain COVID19 next year so well that hugs come back to our social norms once again!

-Arash Aghajani Nargesi, PGY2

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on January 02, 2021