COVID pandemic touches every aspect of occ health physician's life
Fik Isaac is founder and chief executive officer of WellWorld Consulting and former vice president of Global Health Services for Johnson & Johnson. He also is a member of Enterprise Health’s advisory board. We work side by side with Fik in this capacity, tapping into his extensive expertise on global health and wellness strategies, policies and solutions to better understand the unique challenges onsite health clinics face in today’s complex environment.
As part of our COVID 1-1 blog series, we spoke with Fik to learn how the pandemic has affected him and what he expects its lingering effects to be. Here is Fik’s story.
How has COVID-19 affected you professionally?
I think COVID had a big impact on multiple levels. I retired from Johnson & Johnson three years ago, and am now consulting. For me, the pandemic has mushroomed into a significant workload in guiding companies of different sizes as they work through screening, testing and how to return employees to the worksite. At the same time, I realize that if I was still at J&J, managing the pandemic response would have been a huge undertaking.
It also helped me look at and understand the impact of a pandemic on societies, communities and people at large. Because I am passionate about mental health and well-being, I have been especially focused on the impact on healthcare systems and front-line workers. Burnout and stress among these workers have been significant, so there is a real need to spend time addressing mental health as a component of the effects of the pandemic.
How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
2020 was quite a landmark year to say the least. Right before the pandemic began, my wife and I traveled overseas to the Middle East. When we returned, she became ill. We think she contracted COVID during our travels. Then I got it, but thankfully had a mild case and required no hospitalization. I was able to manage my symptoms myself in isolation for a couple weeks.
On a more serious note, my sister-in-law spent two months in an ICU in New Jersey before she lost her battle with COVID. This experience gives me a new perspective on how something like this affects individuals and families.
Some unexpected good things did come out of the pandemic, however. Our youngest son, who is 25, came to stay with us for almost the whole year, and our oldest son also spent a couple months with us. This would have never happened if it weren’t for COVID. Getting to spend all that time with them was a silver lining.
What does the future look like in the wake of COVID-19?
The pandemic certainly highlighted the need to look at things from a different perspective. It opened the doors in the medical field for new approaches for how to interact with patients and pushed us to make everything touchless and increase sanitization. It showed us the importance of technology and how the use of telehealth and virtual care can help us monitor diseases and vaccinations. We saw this with Enterprise Health as the organization’s clients and other corporations had the immediate need to use technology differently.
From the business side, vaccinations are giving us hope that people will be able to return to work and eventually hold in-person meetings and travel. At the same time, we all have a new appreciation for balancing work and family, so I expect many businesses to adopt a permanent hybrid model that allows people to work from home and the office.
What have you learned from living through this pandemic?
The isolation phase of the pandemic gave me lots of time to reflect and really think about the real purpose in life. I gained new appreciation for my health and everything around me. It was a good lesson in how to view things from a positive angle, even during difficult times. It also was a great time to connect and spend some time with family whether that be through Facetime or over the telephone.