Finding the good during a pandemic

January 21st, 2020 marked exactly one year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States. Since then, reality has drastically altered, creating a myriad of new challenges and changes for everyone.  We asked our faculty and staff to reflect and share what good they have unveiled during the last 12 months.

“When I reflect on the pandemic, I am reminded of what an honor it is to be a healthcare provider. The opportunity to rise up and care for others, despite all circumstances, is an honor and a privilege.” – Emily Murphy, APRN, AG-ACNP – BC, Nurse Practitioner

“For the first time in my career, when I tell people I am an epidemiologist, they know what that is. This year has given me a chance to dust off and apply tools I haven’t thought about since graduate school – concepts like curve-flattening, infection reproduction number (Rt), test positivity rate, herd immunity, etc.  I’ve been able to lead teams of fantastic colleagues in rapid design and prioritization of studies to help get treatments and vaccines into clinical trials and to develop an infrastructure for delivering experimental therapies as part of the care process in a real-time healthcare setting.  Lastly, it has given me a renewed appreciation for the skills and goodwill of my colleagues, and our collective ability to rise to meet a crisis when called upon.” – Charles C. Miller III, Ph.D., Research

Perfusionist, Brandon, and his wife fostered 14 dogs throughout quarentine; all of which were adopted throughout the year

“With many people working from home, pet rescue groups have seen a surge in people willing to foster pets during the pandemic. Working with Rescued Pets Movement, my wife and I have saved 14 dogs in 2020. These dogs all needed a short term (less than 2 weeks) foster home before being transported to Colorado to find their forever home.” – Brandon Messarra, Perfusion

“I have been blessed not to have encountered the virus, and I have been fully vaccinated.” Alisha Brown, Medical Staff Coordinator

“Looking back, I feel fortunate that my family has stayed healthy and we have not had any major illnesses. I also am thankful that my little ones are able to stay home with dad, even though this has presented its own challenges, we have worked together to get through this and made so many new memories with all the time we spend together. Lastly, the introduction of telemedicine has been a game-changer. We can see patients without putting them at risk and they can avoid the stressful travel/parking fees. I hope they this will continue even after COVID.” – Anonymous

My husband got a job in Washington, D.C., and my family and I were all set to move in March/April 2020. We put our house on the market and I sadly started to interview for jobs in DC area. Due to the pandemic, our move was placed on hold, and they allowed my husband to work from home. Since he successfully worked remotely for a whole year now, our family doesn’t have to leave! Small blessings.” – Lisa DeGarmo, APRN, ACNP-BC, Nurse Practitioner

“I realized meetings can be done more efficiently via video chat platforms; I am thankful for the new administration in helping combat COVID-19 more effectively; I realized that telemedicine is here to stay and we need to continue to embrace it; Above all, this pandemic has helped us realized that human connections and human interactions are essential for our daily mental and spiritual health.” Kourosh Keyhani, DO Vascular Surgeon

“This year has taught me to keep shining brightly, even in the dimness, let your light shine, feed the needy, help with homework, shine.” – Ingrid Harris, Executive Assistant

Integrated vascular surgery resident, Sam Leonard and his wife, Chloe, with their new quarantine puppy, Tuna

“My wife and I got a quarantine puppy! A Goldendoodle named Tuna!” – Sam Leonard, MD integrated vascular surgery resident

“We have more unity as a team, and everyone has stepped up to make sure we always have good coverage. Also, we discovered the beauty of telemedicine and virtual meetings” – Juan Abreu, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgeon

“Since most restaurants were closed, I started to cook more meals for myself at home. This, not only improved my cooking skills but also meant a healthier diet for me; something I intend to keep doing.” – Haider Al Rustem, Research

“For me, I have been able to spend more time with my family and kids. I have more appreciation of what really matters: health, peace, joy, and happiness. I’ve seen my friends from far away more often and virtually. I’ve not had to travel as much, and have been able to focus on my research more” – Gustavo Oderich, MD, Vascular & Endovascular Surgeon
“One of the best things that came out of this past year, has been bonding with my family. Before the pandemic, we were apart nine hours out of the day due to busy schedules. Now, with my kids doing virtual learning and I am able to work remotely, we’re able to spend more time together.” – Rebecca Black, Administrative Assistant

“The most notable thing for me has been working from home with my one year in my office. Spending time with him and watching him grow and develop in just this short amount of time has been pretty amazing.  He’s a terrible intern… but I have cherished the time with him.” – Chris Akers, MA, Medical Illustrator

Medical Assistant, Sandra Hernandez (right) and her late sister

“I lost my sister in early 2020 (Not COVID related). I am grateful I was able to travel to visit her before and after her passing before travel became restricted and challenging.  The pandemic has been a reminder to appreciate the smaller things in life; I am grateful for my family and friends. I am sad that after my sister’s passing I still can’t visit parents due to travel restrictions, though I am positive that we will return to normal, soon.” – Sandra Hernandez, Medical Assistant

“I’ve developed a more positive outlook on life, and am appreciative of the days I am granted to be here on this earth. A lot of people were affected by the pandemic and grace allows me to remain in good health and of sound mind and strong spirit. I also found many hobbies that I enjoy and was able to turn those hobbies into a business!” – Randi Carter, Sr. Patient Access

“I’ve improved on my long-distance running pace!” – Emanuel Ramos Tenorio, Research

“Telemedicine is more accepted now.  Also, most have learned video meeting platforms; I was able to get together with my family in Japan.” – Akiko Tanaka, MD, integrated vascular surgery resident
“I’ve been fortunate to work from home, which meant spending more time with my dog, Maggie, which was a win for us both! I’ve also been able to grow my house plant collection, and read more.” –Caliann Ferguson, MHA, marketing
“Due to the pandemic, one of the US medical license exams was suspended and asked applicants to take an English exam that is well-known in the UK and Australia, instead. I passed it, but I could not find the position in the US. Eventually, I got the position as a medical doctor in Sydney.” – Yuki Ikeno, MD Research
“The best thing to happen during the COVID-19 pandemic was finding out that I’m pregnant! My husband and I are so excited.”-Patricia Butler, Ultrasound Technician
“I had time to study for my STEPS, write articles, start a medical Twitter account, and learn about the best of aortic, cardiac, and vascular surgery. I was also able to focus on my residency application essays.” Alejandro Umana Pisano, MD, Research