A Message From Our CEO

Photo credit: KevinNeilson.com

Photo credit: KevinNeilson.com

The contours of the COVID-19 public health emergency are unlike any we have faced in our lifetimes. It is profoundly challenging to be sure, but also a moment for us to call upon the best in ourselves and each other.

As Fenway Health responds to this public health emergency (you can find details of what we are doing below), we remain committed to our mission. While it may feel difficult at times, we will rise together as a community as we have done so well and so often before. Fenway Health has a rich deep legacy of rising to the challenge – and leading the charge – in moments just like this. You might even say we helped write the book on how to respond with expertise, deep compassion, and hope during times of crisis and uncertainty.

I did not think my first communication with you as Fenway Health’s CEO would be on such a serious topic. But joining Fenway Health at this moment in time has been an extraordinary experience. It has afforded me an immediate and incredible opportunity to see firsthand what the Fenway Health team of health care providers, scientists, researchers, and community advocates are able to accomplish during times of challenge. I have been witness to so much great collaboration, innovative problem-solving, calm and disciplined decision making, generosity of spirit, and goodwill.

We are in the early days of what may be an extended period of uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact continue to unfold. It is inevitable that this is going to feel stressful at times. I want to encourage you to practice self-care – whatever that looks like for you – so that you can be attentive to your own well-being while also sustaining the energy you need to show up with and for loved ones and our community. Even a few minutes a day will make a difference.

For me, self-care includes connecting to poetry. Along those lines, I would like to share a poem by Lynn Ungar that she wrote in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. I’ve read it many times and find new meaning in it with each read. I hope it gives something to you as well.


What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
—Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

Thank you for being a part of the Fenway Health community. Take good care.

Ellen LaPointe,


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