David B. Thorud Leadership Award
John Lynch

John Lynch

Associate Professor, Allergy & Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine;
Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control, Harborview Medical Center;
Associate Medical Director, Harborview Medical Center

Nominated by:
Dr. Richard Goss, Medical Director
Harborview Medical Center, Office of the Medical Director

Dr. Santiago Neme, Medical Director, UWMC-Northwest
Vice President, UW Physicians
Clinical Assistant Professor, Div. of Allergy & Infectious Diseases

Awarded 2021

We are pleased to jointly nominate Dr. John Lynch for the David Thorud Leadership Award. This award honors an individual who has exhibited exemplary leadership across the University of Washington and in no year has this been more important. During this period of an unprecedented pandemic, Dr. Lynch stands out in extraordinary ways.

By way of background, Dr. Lynch is an established leader within HMC and UW Medicine. He has served in medical leadership roles since 2010, including Medical Director for Employee health and Medical Director for Antibiotic Stewardship at HMC, then becoming Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control in 2014 and then being promoted to Associate Medical Director at Harborview 2019. He recently served a three-year term as an at-large member of the Harborview Medical Executive Board, serving as the Medical Staff President July 2019 – June 2020. In these roles, Dr. Lynch has distinguished himself as a gifted clinical leader and administrator.

His accomplishments predating 2020 offer clear insights into his unique qualifications and his readiness to be called upon to lead. In each role he takes on, he offers an unparalleled level of enthusiasm and encouragement that is so engaging and credible that change in culture and successful results inevitably follow.

This pattern is present in all he does and has heavily influenced successes on such important initiatives as hospital-wide hand hygiene, influenza vaccination for health care workers, C. difficile prevention, surgical site infection prevention, and so many more. He has led multiple outbreak investigations, including influenza, brucella, measles, Hepatitis A, and others.

The Ebola crisis was perhaps the closest to the COVID-19 pandemic that we had previously experienced. While fortunately this did not become a national epidemic, fear was running exceptionally high regarding the ease of spread and high mortality rates. Preparations were fully underway. John was instrumental in Harborview’s preparedness as a nationally designated center for treatment. While we did not care for anyone with actual Ebola infection, there were several high-risk cases that were assumed to have the disease and involved the full protocol. In this 2014 event, his enormous gifts for organizing personnel, understanding physical plant requirements and driving the medical care were evident. Also evident was the effectiveness of his communication skills. He had the trust of all.

Nothing could have prepared Dr. Lynch for what he has been asked to do this past year. In late February 2020, it had become clear that COVID-19 had reached Seattle. Soon the first nursing home in the nation was experiencing an outbreak. Patients were being admitted to area hospitals including Harborview. This marked the beginning of a pandemic, the proportions of which we still do not know.

UW Medicine rapidly mobilized and created the incident command structure. Dr. Lynch was appointed as the Incident Command Medical Director for Harborview and for the UW Medicine system. Now, nine months later and counting, John remains at the helm and continues to deliver a remarkable degree inspired leadership under intense pressure.

Daily and weekly, the circumstances continue to change. He has led the Incident Command team through countless decision points and information campaigns. This involves constantly balancing demands for emerging medical therapies, personal protective equipment (PPE) and physical plant responses with a thoughtful, evidence-based strategy to ensure that we make the best decisions with each step. His judgement is highly respected largely because of his innate understanding of the role of transparency and personal humility. Never pointing fingers, never blaming, only encouraging and guiding.

His accomplishments this past year are too numerous to fully acknowledge but were immediately evident from day one and continue to the present. The tone was set even before the outbreak actually manifest in Seattle. John and his team, understanding the value in keeping asymptomatic people away from hospitals, worked with Public Health to lead the Home Assessment Team (HAT) initiative. This was the first outreach effort in the nation to screen and test potentially exposed individuals at home instead of emergency department. This innovative effort rapidly put Harborview and University of Washington on the national platform with many more chapters to follow.

At what is no doubt an incredible sacrifice of personal time, John is extensively engaged at the hospital level, the UW system level, the county and state level and the national level. He works closely with King County Public Health and the Governor’s office. He is the lead author on the Infection Diseases Society of America Guidelines on Infection Prevention in Patients with Suspected or Known COVID-19, he is published in the New England Journal of Medicine on COVID treatment and is a co-author on countless other peer review publications supporting colleagues across the UW system.

With this most recent surge, which may become the most intense we have experienced, Dr. Lynch continues his tireless leadership role. He is prominently featured on the weekly UW Town Halls, reaching nearly 1000 people on a regular basis. John along with his colleagues outlines the most pressing and the most difficult questions posed each week. As we speak, preparations are underway for a dangerously high volume of patients entering our hospitals, an initial roll-out of a vaccine, and the use of N-95 masks that balance the benefits to the health care worker with the risks of depleted stores in the event of a much larger surge. John is at the lead on each of these efforts.

If this wasn’t enough, John has also been involved in another very important effort on late, not directly related to COVID-19. Because of his high visibility as a leader in this community for his work on COVID-19, he was a natural spokesperson for the promotion of Proposition 1, the Harborview Bond Measure. He attended numerous venues including editorial boards, fund raising and media events. He represented the importance of Harborview in this community both in the time of a pandemic and in all else that Harborview does. There is no doubt that his efforts contributed to the overwhelming 78% support for the bond measure in this past election.

John is an exceptional individual with a track record of accomplishment who has led with distinction during this past year. Harborview and UW Medicine are strong owing much to his skillful leadership. As a result, we all have played a role in delivering on UW Medicine’s most central mission: To Improve the Health of the Public. Please accept our nomination of John Lynch, MD to receive the David Thorud Leadership Award.

Richard Goss, MD, MPH, FACP
Professor, Department of Medicine
Medical Director, Harborview Medical Center
UW Medicine, Director for Quality Metrics

Santiago Neme, MD, MPH, FACP
Medical Director, UWMC-Northwest
Vice President, UW Physicians
Clinical Assistant Professor, Div. of Allergy & Infectious Diseases

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