A year ago this month, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Since then, we have seen how a well-run health care system that works for everyone can save lives—and how inefficiencies snowball to create devastating harm, undermining the efforts of frontline medical professionals.

While viral videos of citizens cheering doctors and nurses are heartening, it’s also clear that health care workers—including administrative staff, janitorial teams and the thousands of other essential workers who keep our health care system operating—have borne a disproportionate mental, physical and emotional burden from this pandemic. We owe it to them and their patients to learn from our mistakes—and push on with resolve. 

After all, the pandemic exposed dangerous cracks in our broader health care system. Shortcomings have emerged in everything from securing masks to efficiently allocating medical professionals where they’re needed most. Mistakes during times like these are costly, and the pandemic’s anniversary should make us reflect on lessons learned.