June 9, 2020

Dear colleagues,

Like all of you, I am horrified, sad, angry, and frustrated by the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. The ensuing protests that continue to spread across our nation reflect long-simmering tensions built over time. These are reflective of a pattern of violence that has had devastating impact across generations of people.  

Communities of color continue to suffer stark inequities across countless aspects of American life. In the midst of this pandemic, black and brown communities have experienced a disproportionate share of COVID-19 infections and death, and many may be hesitant to wear face coverings in public for fear of violence, harassment, or racial profiling.  

The impact of longstanding, systemic racism and bigotry, coupled with these recent, devastating events weighs heavily on our patients and affects every aspect of their health and wellbeing. As always, our top priority at HUHS remains our dedication to the health and wellness of our diverse populations of staff, faculty, and students. I ask you all to remain cognizant of these ideals and guiding principles when providing care to our community. I’d like to extend a special thank you to CAMHS and Behavioral Health staff who continue provide exemplary work on the front lines to ensure that our community receives the mental health care it needs during these incredibly difficult, stressful times.  

It’s not just our patients who are affected, but many in the HUHS family are hurting as well. Please remember to take care of yourselves and one another. It is imperative that we acknowledge the pain that so many are feeling and continue to find ways to support the black and brown community. For those of you struggling, please know I stand with you and I support you. I will work relentlessly to ensure that both HUHS and myself can grow from these terrible tragedies. For those of you looking for additional support, resources, or guidance, please remember that the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to you at 877-EAP-HARV (877-327-4278) to help with feelings of stress or anxiety. HUHS HR and Behavioral Health are also available to provide you additional support.  

As President Bacow said to the Harvard community yesterday, “I hope you will pause during these troubled times to ask what you believe. Even more importantly, I hope you will find the strength and determination to act on your beliefs—to repair and perfect this imperfect world. Those of us privileged to work or study at a place like this bear special responsibilities.”  

Thank you for your ongoing hard work, support and dedication to our patients and each other. Let’s continue to find strength in our shared humanity and our hope for justice.  

Giang

Giang T. Nguyen MD, MPH, MSCE, FAAFP
Executive Director, Harvard University Health Services