From free lunch programs for frontline hospital workers to bright murals depicting health care heroes, Denver’s appreciation for medical professionals has perhaps never been more palpable. And although 5280 has been publishing lists of the metro area’s best physicians and dentists for years, the task took on a special significance for us in 2020, too, against the backdrop of the fight against COVID-19. In previous issues, the names in our “Top Doctors” feature may have felt a bit abstract. Now, skimming the honorees in the emergency medicine section conjures images of exhausted physicians triaging coughing patients; the obstetrics category brings to mind babies being delivered by mothers in masks; and it’s not difficult to imagine the flood of desperate phone calls to psychiatrists from people reeling from the mental health toll the pandemic has wrought. Likewise, the 900-plus winners in “Top Dentists” aren’t just the men and women who fill your cavities; they’re small-business owners who gave up months of income by shutting down to slow the spread and preserve personal protective equipment for those who needed it most.
In light of their sacrifices over the past 10 months, we’re prouder than ever to dedicate many of the following stories to our region’s most respected, trusted, and innovative medical professionals. We’re also excited to bring you stories about how locals in various fields have risen to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19 (see “House Calls” to learn why telehealth might be here to stay and “Safety By Design” for tips to help steel your workplace against the novel coronavirus).
With the pandemic still dominating the news cycle and our daily lives, however, for many of us the ability to stay well feels out of our control. That’s why we devoted our cover feature to a hugely important aspect of your health that is firmly within your power to change: your diet. About half of all American adults have preventable chronic diseases (including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes), and increasingly, Colorado physicians and health care systems are turning to what’s on the dinner table to treat them. In “Food Rx,” we translate the science behind this movement into actions you can take to make short- and long-term positive impacts on your and your family’s health. Kind of like staying home to flatten the curve, these are changes that just might have the dual benefit of keeping us as individuals safe while simultaneously contributing to building a healthier society—which is something we would all love to see in 2021.