Leah A. Zallman, MD, MPH, died on November 5, 2020, from accidents sustained as a pedestrian in a automobile crash. When she died, Dr. Zallman had simply voted within the 2020 US election to make sure that essentially the most susceptible on this nation would have a voice as soon as once more.
Dr. Zallman was a main care doctor on the East Cambridge Care Heart, director of analysis on the Institute for Group Well being at Cambridge Well being Alliance, and an assistant professor of drugs at Harvard Medical College. Lengthy a member of the Society for Basic Inside Medication (GIM) household, she devoted her profession to addressing inequities in well being care supply, for populations and for her personal sufferers, separately. All through her profession, she introduced collectively group organizations, well being care establishments, and other people to fight injustices in care supply. She introduced collectively mates, household, and colleagues to experience one another’s firm and concepts.
Now we have identified Dr. Zallman all through completely different levels in her life—from being mates since grade college (RGM), to watching her develop her ardour and voice in GIM fellowship (RGM and DM), to collaborating along with her in her burgeoning tutorial profession (DM and PBV). We’re however a small fraction of those that knew, labored with, admired, supported, and have been supported by her.
Dr. Zallman’s loss of life is an incalculable loss and has introduced sorrow to all these she touched. Her contagious ardour for serving to essentially the most susceptible stood as a residing instance of what a well being care supplier’s function in addressing injustices and social threat elements could be. Her instance will proceed to encourage those that search a extra simply well being care system by analysis, medical care, hospital organizational management, and advocacy.
Dr. Zallman devoted her too-short profession in tutorial medication to learning immigrant well being care. She modified the nationwide dialog about immigrant well being care coverage by demonstrating that immigrants contribute extra to the well being care system than they draw down. This concept, demonstrated in a collection of papers in high-profile journals (together with Well being Affairs, in 2013 and 2019, and the Journal of General Internal Medicine), immediately contradicted the corrosive however politically expedient concept that immigrants characterize a web drain on America’s well being care assets. She documented the well being care plight of immigrants within the US, displaying the methods wherein historic and ongoing injustices have a significant adversarial influence on the well being of our communities. Dr. Zallman expanded the strains inside which we function as clinicians. Her voice will proceed to encourage present and future generations to comply with her lead; as she as soon as wrote, “[My] ardour arises from a deep perception that every one people have a proper to well being care, and that as a doctor researcher, I’ve a task to play in elevating the voices of essentially the most susceptible.”
Dr. Zallman had the imaginative and prescient that tackling injustices and addressing social threat elements requires innovation, analysis, collaboration, and advocacy in any respect ranges. She strongly believed that well being care methods have a task in responding to sufferers’ social threat elements. Her collaborative management type was key within the profitable implementation of the Cambridge Health Alliance “Connect” and Boston Medical Center “THRIVE” social determinants of well being (SDOH) packages that establish and handle sufferers’ social and financial wants in tandem with their well being care wants. Throughout preliminary levels, the restricted assets at each safety-net organizations made the percentages of success daunting. Dr. Zallman knew that collaboration can be the important thing to creating these packages a actuality. Making use of her well-known basic optimism and cheerful tenacity, she empowered each establishments to share frameworks for occupied with an SDOH program and sensible instruments for screening, social service referral protocols, useful resource guides in numerous languages, and operational and digital well being report workflows.
This free-flowing trade of concepts allowed for the cross-pollination of considering and use of scarce assets to highly effective impact. Because of this, each establishments developed and carried out the primary packages within the nation to systematically display all sufferers for social threat elements utilizing the digital well being report. In occasions when division and competitors have change into extra prevalent in academia and well being care establishments, she confirmed us that one of the best options are present in shared work primarily based on shared values. Each establishments proceed to comply with her instance and have shared their work extensively with different safety-net and non-safety-net methods nationally.
Dr. Zallman is survived by her loving husband, two younger sons, mom, sister, niece, and numerous mates and colleagues. Her tutorial legacy will probably be in her devotion to giving a voice to those that have none; her endless quest for well being care fairness; her infectious drive that moved others to affix her causes; and her dedication to collaboration in medical care and scientific pursuits. Could these she touched and people who are solely now coming to know her outsized influence stick with it the torch, collectively, within the pursuit of well being care fairness.