COVID-19, Healthcare, and Beyond

This discussion series, explores healthcare in the context of the pandemic. Featuring frontline doctors and healthcare experts from the University of Chicago Medical Center, these roundtables offer a view on COVID-19 from within the hospital.

Open Enrollment


The COVID-19 pandemic has tested, stretched, and challenged the healthcare infrastructure of the United States. Indeed, this disease has been referred to as a ‘canary in the coalmine’ because of the way that it has exposed gaps in healthcare systems and revealed biases in access and care according to race, ethnicity, and class. This healthcare crisis serves as a vivid reminder that achieving healthy bodies and healthy minds requires long-term investments across a spectrum of institutions and activities.

This discussion series, which is free and open to all, explores healthcare in the context of the pandemic. Featuring frontline doctors and healthcare experts from the University of Chicago Medical Center, these roundtables offer a view on COVID-19 from within the hospital. We also investigate the pandemic’s effects on specific diseases, such as diabetes, and assess COVID-19’s impact on mental health and community healthcare initiatives. We furthermore consider the disease from the vantage of global health.

Throughout the series, presenters show how COVID-19 not only deepens the need for creative approaches to research, treatments, and outreach, but also how the pandemic has transformed the foundations upon which these efforts take place.


This series was offered in February 2021.

Each session consisted of one hour of discussion, followed by thirty minutes of question and answer with audience members.

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Our first discussion with Dr. William Parker and Dr. Stephen Weber focuses on COVID-19 and its effects on patient care and hospital operations at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC). As a physician, bioethicist, and data scientist, Dr. Parker speaks to the experience of treating patients on the frontlines of the pandemic. He also discusses research he has conducted on “crisis standards of care,” particularly as they pertain to resource allocation and management. Dr. Weber, as Chief Medical Officer at UCMC, talks about the epidemiology of the virus, the how and when of pandemic preparations, as well as the persistent uncertainties produced by the disease. He further explains the massive new demands the pandemic has placed on various hospital functions, from supply procurement to medical staffing and vaccine delivery.

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Background Reading and Viewing

Melanie Evans and Christine Mai-Duc, “COVID-19 Crisis Forces California Hospitals to Plan Who Gets Life-Saving Care,” The Wall Street Journal, 8 January 2021.

"The COVID-19 vaccine's uneven distribution." Salon, January 28, 2021.

Article features Asst. Prof. William Parker's analysis of healthcare disparities and COVID-19 deaths in Chicago

Bianca Martin, "How Can We Ensure Fair Distribution Of The COVID-19 Vaccine?" WBEZ Chicago, 1 February 2021.

Dr. Monica Peek and Dr. Stephen Weber, "COVID-19 Vaccine: Expert Q and A," University of Chicago Medicine, 19 January 2021.

William Parker, Angira Patel, Craig Kulgman, and Gina Piscitello, “Lightfoot must activate phase 1b of COVID-19 vaccination now,” Chicago Tribune, 11 January 2021.

Stephen Weber, “What to know about the COVID-19 vaccine,” University of Chicago Medicine, 12 January 2021.

"'Masks are important and masks are safe': Dr. Emily Landon addresses COVID-19 myths, asks Americans to help flatten the curve again at Illinois governor's press conference.” University of Chicago Medicine, 30 October 2020.


COVID-19, which has disproportionately affected Black and Brown communities, has shone a bright light on a wide range of social and economic inequalities in the United States. In this session, Dr. Daniel Johnson and Dr. Arshiya Baig discuss social determinants of health, as well as the ways that the pandemic has exacerbated existing disparities in healthcare. Our panelists also talk about initiatives in which they are involved that seek to serve disadvantaged populations. Dr. Baig, who is a primary care physician and health services expert, draws on her research on diabetes in Latino communities to illuminate the pandemic’s cascading effects among those groups. Dr. Daniel Johnson, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, considers some of the pandemic’s consequences for children, and also describes his work with ECHO-Chicago, an organization devoted to expanding access to care and building primary care capacity among community-based providers.

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Background Reading and Viewing

“Exploring the Link Between Unemployment and Poverty,” Chicago Tonight, WTTW, 18 January 2021.

Jeehoon Han, Bruce D. Meyer, James X Sullivan, “Income and Poverty in the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Summer 2020.

“Health Inequality Plus Coronavirus Creates Perfect Storm in Chicago’s Black Community,” Chicago Tonight, WTTW, 25 May 2020. 

“Pandemic Exacerbating Existing Health Disparities in Auburn Gresham,” Chicago Tonight, WTTW, 28 April 2020.

“Racism in Health Care: Providers Address a Public Health Crisis,” Chicago Tonight, WTTW, 8 July 2020.


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Dr. Doriane Miller

University of Chicago Medical Center and Associate Professor of Medicine

Emily Osborn - Headshot

Emily Lynn Osborn

Associate Professor, Department of History

Series Sponsor