“Our annual A-List Awards celebrate the region’s best,” writes St. Louis Magazine. “Most years, that means superlative service, one-of-a-kind wares, and experiences worth bragging about. This year, though, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many St. Louis businesses to slim down, reconfigure, or rethink their entire business model.”
In response to COVID-19, St. Louis Magazine’s A-List Awards 2020 recognize the individuals who have responded to the pandemic in meaningful ways. “These are the folks for whom ‘good’ isn’t good enough,” the magazine emphasizes.
LJ Punch, MD, Acute and Critical Care Surgeon and Associate Professor of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, received the A-List 2020 Visionary Award for their work in education, clinical care and community action.
“Dr. LJ Punch is like a wrecking ball swinging at information silos, trying to plant knowledge in people’s minds to bolster the physical wellbeing of underserved populations,” Nicholas Phillips writes. “Whether speaking in a college classroom or on a streetcorner in North St. Louis, the Ohio-raised physician exudes the charm, identity, and experience that are key to conveying crucial health-related facts to just about anyone.”
Punch has worked for years to address the disease of gun violence through Power4STL—a non-profit collaborative of health professionals and students working to reduce the impact of trauma, injury and violence. Power4STL offers anti-violence classes and events at The T Anti-Violence Center on Delmar Boulevard as part of the nationwide Stop the Bleed initiative.
“When Stop the Bleed needed to become Stop the Virus, we pivoted very quickly,” asserts Punch. They saw that COVID-19 was disproportionately impacting the same communities that have been most harmed by gun violence, and that a similar strategy of education and community engagement would be necessary to address this new public health crisis.
Punch collaborated with Mary Politi, PhD, Professor of Public Health Sciences in the Master of Public Health Sciences (MPHS) program, Victoria Fraser, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine, and MPHS student and Power4STL Artist-in-Residence Ian Wood to design, print and distribute thousands of informational handouts clearly communicating important health information to high-risk communities who might not otherwise see health messaging.
“We’ve got to show people they have power,” Punch says, “and that they can move past trauma response, and if they have resources, they have the power to act.”