Cindy Johnson, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS President

Dear ASCLS Family,

As I sit down to write this letter, I am reminded daily of the strength and wisdom that have been displayed by all of you as we continue to fight the battle against a newly identified virus known as COVID-19. Who would of thought that we would be using terms such as “social distancing” or “shelter in place,” phrases that I do not recall ever using? Many of us had to endure our governors’ executive orders to stay at home to protect the public’s health and slow the transmission of COVID-19. Through social media, you have inspired and humored us with your stories and advice in the midst of uncertainty.

During the 2019 ASCLS House of Delegates, I challenged you to “Share Your Story”; little did I know that about nine months later each of us would have that opportunity, as the laboratory community has been thrust in the spotlight as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

I’ll admit there are times that I am frustrated, as I am constantly asked, “Why can’t you perform this testing in our laboratory?” Of course, it would be great if we could offer the COVID-19 test, if only we had the testing platform and/or reagents to perform the assay. Like many of you, we are struggling to keep an inventory of nasopharyngeal collection swabs and transport media on hand while assuring that we have the appropriate personal protective equipment to do our jobs. Despite these obstacles, we continue to educate healthcare providers, the public, and our governmental officials on the value the laboratory community brings in fighting this disease.

Knowing that laboratory professionals play an essential role on the healthcare team, you truly are one of the unsung heroes that I am proud to call “family.” Thank you to those who work in the clinical and public health laboratories; to the laboratory leaders who continue to support and provide guidance to their teams; to those working in industry trying to get us the much needed supplies; to the educators who continue in the mission of teaching the next generation of laboratory professionals; and to the students who have continued in your studies—hang in there as we need you! The tireless hours you have worked have not gone unnoticed … thank you!

During these past couple of months, we have all been challenged both personally and professionally, but I have found comfort in knowing that there is a community of laboratory friends that will always be there to provide support. We are definitely stronger together, my ASCLS Family! Thank you for your commitment to fighting this pandemic … our work does matter!

In close, I want to leave you with a quote from Jon Gordon:

You are greater than your circumstances. More courageous than your fears. The struggle is real but you are strong. Life is tough but you are tougher. You’ve got this. Don’t let worry get the best of you today.

Take care and hope to see you soon! #HeroesInLabCoats

Cindy Johnson is senior director of laboratory services at CentraCare in St. Cloud, Minnesota.