President’s Column: Pathologists on the Pandemic Frontlines

By Guillermo G. Martinez-Torres, MD, FCAP

The past few months have taken a toll on all of us, both personally and professionally. While pathologists and health care workers around the world may have been more prepared than the average person for the trials of a pandemic, I believe it has been a sobering time for all of us and one of reflection on the role of our specialty.

Guillermo G. Martinez-Torres, MD, FCAP

Guillermo G. Martinez-Torres, MD, FCAP

I write this letter with a deep sense of both humility and pride. Humility for all those who have stepped up to help during this time, whether that was as a health care professional, a CAP Foundation donor, or simply someone practicing social distancing to help keep others safe.

But I’m also extremely proud of pathologists everywhere who rushed to develop life-saving tests and kept their laboratories running 24/7 in the face of uncertainty. I am certain that many more lives would have been lost if it wasn’t for your efforts.

Looking forward, we continue to face the threat of COVID-19 while also continuing the testing, diagnosis, and laboratory management that is essential for treating a host of other diseases. Now, more than ever, pathology is at the forefront of quality patient care and will continue its significant role well into the future.

With all this in mind, I’d like to tell you about some of the initiatives the CAP Foundation has been undertaking. See, Test & Treat, our flagship program providing free cancer screening to underserved patients, will continue this summer and fall after several host sites delayed their planned spring programs for the wellbeing of their volunteers and patients. The CAP Foundation is proud to promote preventative care even during difficult times and will support these sites as they make decisions regarding what is best for their communities. Many vulnerable patients with precarious employment situations will continue to need free health care services.

The CAP Foundation has also been working to mobilize resources toward pandemic efforts while making sure our grants and awards stay true to the mission of the organization. In this way, we are enabling pathologists to provide the greatest impact during this time.

Specifically, the repositioned John H. Rippey Grant for Expedited Research will provide funding for projects related to COVID-19 to help the laboratories on the frontlines of the pandemic. Amounts ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 (up to a total of $100,000) will be awarded to initiatives investigating the impact of COVID-19-related tests on patient outcomes, including studies related to process improvement, test accuracy, timeliness, and result communication. Learn more about the grant and submit your proposal by June 1.

On behalf of the CAP Foundation, I’d like to thank each of you for your commitment to health care. I know that we are making a difference and look forward to seeing you all soon. Until then, be safe and be well.