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COVID Heroes is a new feature highlighting employees who go above and beyond during this extraordinary time in healthcare. Each week we will highlight a new COVID Hero who demonstrates commitment and compassion in everything they do. From the frontlines to behind the scenes, every team member at NorthShore is vital to our success and to providing the best care for our patients.
This week we feature:
Rev. Andrea Johnson
Glenbrook Hospital Rev. Andrea Johnson, Coordinator and Chaplain, Spiritual Care and Support, has been an incredible support for the entire hospital community and continues to go above and beyond more than a year after the pandemic began. Her support of patients and families has been immeasurable.
“She has stayed at besides praying and talking with COVID patients and their families, supporting them through both the healing and dying processes. Her presence has provided comfort beyond words,” said Medical-Surgical and ICU/GAU managers Sandy A. and Natalie R.
“She has been amazing, offering so much support to every team here,” said Glenbrook Hospital Vice President, Nursing and Clinical Operations Maria Knecht. “She has led prayer vigils, helped in well-being rounds, and worked with individuals and groups offering psychological and spiritual support. She has literally been in every nook and cranny of Glenbrook helping others.”
Providing high-quality patient care throughout the pandemic has required teamwork and true collaboration. Application Services Director in Health Information Technology Bobbi Shimskie is a team player, whose talent and dedication continue to shine.
Bobbi has been instrumental in understanding, coordinating, and implementing the workflows and technology needed to support clinical teams during the pandemic. “From implementing testing processes to notifying employees and patients of vaccine scheduling, to workflows for administering the vaccine, she has been there leading every step of the way,” said Health Information Technology Assistant Vice President Meredith Sefa.
“Bobbi brings organization, drives progress, and adds levity to those with whom she collaborates through her sense of humor and open communication style. She’s often a translator, frequently a moderator, and always a vital partner with clinical, operational, and HIT teams,” added Clinical Operations Senior Vice President Tyler Bauer.
The threat of COVID-19 has been a source of stress for the entire community, and pregnant women often have an extra level of fear and anxiety around the virus. Labor and Delivery Clinical Coordinator Gail Leiter has gone above and beyond to care for COVID-positive pregnant patients and has also led efforts to adapt prenatal education during the pandemic, developing a virtual/online program.
“Gail recognized the continued educational needs of our new and expectant parents and assisted with validating an online program to meet their needs. She truly is a COVID hero for our OB patients,” said Assistant Vice President of Women and Children’s Service Line Cheryl Bauer.
Medical Simulation Lab Technician Steve Carlson played a vital role in connecting patients and family members via Zoom due to visitor restrictions related to COVID-19. Carlson was the first person to fill the pilot Patient and Family Liaison role at Glenbrook Hospital beginning in late December and was lauded by staff, patients and families for helping to make so many meaningful connections.
Carlson managed to get headphones for a 90-year-old grandmother whose hearing aids weren’t working, allowing her to connect with her family on a daily basis and prompting her to announce “I love you” to Carlson and other staff every time they set up a Zoom call.
He connected a hospice patient with a priest and family members just hours before she died and made numerous joyous connections on Christmas Eve with extended families. Carlson formed relationships with patients and families, some of whom he helped communicate for weeks or longer as their hospitalizations demanded. Carlson successfully completed close to 200 Zoom calls before returning to the Simulation Lab.
As our general patient population began to see an increase in COVID positive numbers, so too did the obstetric patient population, including those in the high-risk pregnancy category.
Clinical Nurse Manager Janice Hopson has played a critical role for our COVID patients, as well as our team members at both Evanston and Highland Park Hospitals.
“Our COVID OB patients needed comfort and guidance that they were being well cared for during this unprecedented time. Janice was right there making sure the latest protocols were being followed, everyone had what they needed and ensuring mom and baby, as well as her team, were ready,” Assistant Vice President of Women and Children’s Service Line Cheryl Bauer.
Bryce HadsellFrom the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic through today, Bryce Hadsell has been key to our fight against the virus. Bryce's work behind the screen and at the keyboard developed the NorthShoreConnect COVID-19 eVisit, which is approaching 100,000 patient visits.
The COVID-19 eVisit serves as a free and always available resource for an anxious public and a triage tool for our Immediate Care and Drive-Through evaluation and testing programs. His talent promotes efficiency for our patients and allowed for precious staff resources to be used for direct patient care, said Tyler A. Bauer, MA, MBA, LCPC, Senior Vice President, Clinical Operations.. In addition to his incredible skills, he is one of the most collaborative, can-do colleagues with whom I have the pleasure to work.
“Bryce has been crucial to meeting the organization’s goals and automating and simplifying much of the process in this initiative,” said HIT Project Manager Darryck M.” He has spent countless hours designing, automating and simplifying clinical and patient-facing workflows to ensure patients can be seen safely and quickly during this difficult time.”
Matt StewartNorthShore Immediate Care centers, drive-through, and pre-procedure testing for COVID-19 continue to be critical to NorthShore’s ability to care for the community during the ongoing pandemic. More than 77,000 patients have received COVID-19 tests in our drive-through and pre-procedure facilities and that number continues to climb.
Medical Group Operations Director Matt Stewart manages and supports the operations of 20 Immediate Care locations, drive-through testing, and the pre-procedure testing site at Glenbrook Ambulatory Care Center, and has been a key player in our response to COVID-19. Stewart is recognized for extraordinary leadership and partnering with team members to provide excellent care to patients.
Previous COVID Hero Profiles:Jeff ZakemThe unprecedented challenge of providing care during the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the necessity of ongoing education and training for everyone at NorthShore.
Learning & Development’s Learning Technology manager Jeff Zakem played a critical role in ensuring that clinical teams had the education and training they needed to provide the best possible care for all patients.
“Jeff worked tirelessly, all while balancing a multitude of other requests for training to support the organization,” said Senior eLearning Instructional Designer Sarah D. “In addition to managing his regular team, he has been overseeing an additional team since the beginning of the pandemic, and does it all with grace. He is always there to ensure that we have the tools and support we need to be successful and feel safe. It’s an honor to work for him.”
CClinical Emergency Department Nurse Manager Joan Casey’s leadership is well recognized throughout NorthShore. “Her leadership is above and beyond, and she deserves recognition for consistently doing whatever it takes to get the job done,” said Sarah Donlan, MD, Associate Chief, Division of Emergency Medicine. “She’s always there supporting her staff and truly leads by example."
"Joan played a critical role coordinating our COVID-19 response", added Dr. Donlan. “She has been incredibly valuable; she created a positive, safe environment even in the midst of so much uncertainty.” said Dr. Donlan.
"Joan’s quick thinking and expertise combined with her leadership skills creates the perfect combo. Joan’s strong sense of commitment to her patients and team is incredible and we are lucky to have Joan as part of the Evanston leadership team,” said Nicole Fernandez, RN, MS, ONC, Senior Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Operations Evanston Hospital. “Joan, thank you for being you, and thank you for choosing NorthShore!”
COVID-19 has challenged every area of healthcare, including the billing and coding arena. Elizabeth Kindy, Manager of Billing and Coding Support, has stepped up and led her team through new and difficult challenges.
"Liz has demonstrated great guidance during these challenging times,” said Senior Coding Support Specialist Corina P. “We are working behind the scenes in an ever-changing coding world, even more so with COVID. Her devotion to delivering quality coding and reporting in association with fast and reliable advice makes our coding world truly shine every day.”
“Liz has shown true leadership and genuinely devotes her heart and soul to her team and our shared NorthShore values,” added Corina.
Maria VillanuevaNorthShore’s ability to provide high-level care during the pandemic required resilience and flexibility from the entire organization, with many team members taking on completely new roles and responsibilities. Maria Villanueva, Manager, Quality & Care Transformation, was one of the unsung heroes who stepped up in March. Among her new responsibilities was notifying patients of their COVID test results.
At the beginning of the pandemic, there were hundreds of calls to make each day, and new information from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control was continuously streaming in. Maria had to keep up with the latest instructions for patients. The calls were complicated and time-consuming, and she handled them with compassion and care.
“There were so many front line workers who can’t be thanked enough, but Maria was one of those workers who many never saw, but who made a huge difference in how families reacted to the news they were positive and how they learned to manage that diagnosis.“said Clinical Coordinator Peggy O.
Veronica KaiboussiA part of the Skokie COVID-19 drive through testing center since its inception, Medical Assistant Veronica Kaiboussi has played a key role in the team’s success.
"Veronica puts the care of her patients before everything else and always makes sure she is there for them; both medically and emotionally,” said Senior Secretary Anorin A. “Whether it’s 100 degrees, pouring rain, or a quiet day testing hundreds of patients for a deadly virus, Veronica is in the field, day after day, helping those who need it, with a smile on her face and no complaint in sight.”
“Veronica makes her patients a little less afraid with her kind energy and laughter,” added Anorin. “I’ve seen her in action, I’ve been her patient, and I know what her work means to her.”
Mary Alice Lavin
Infection Prevention and Control leadership is always critical in health care. During a pandemic, the stakes are even higher. NorthShore’s Director of Infection Prevention and Control Mary Alice Lavin is the perfect person for the job, according to Chief Medical Officer Lakshmi Halasyamani, MD.
Mary Alice ensured our frontline teams had what they needed to provide the best possible care to patients during the COVID-19 crisis. From making sure testing follow-up was in place to answering unending questions about PPE, Mary Alice has been a “go to” resource for NorthShore.
"Mary Alice takes it all in stride. She has an unbelievable amount of knowledge, energy and amazing attention to detail. She gives 100% to every question asked of her and thinks each challenge through with such thoughtfulness. Mary Alice makes everything we do better,” remarked Dr. Halasyamani.
Housekeeper Emma Benton's compassion for patients has become even greater during the pandemic. “Emma takes the time to walk patients down the hallway,” said Clinical Nurse Manager Vesna N. who stopped to document the kindness. “She is a godsend and so good with them. The fact that she does this is incredible!”
When she was thanked for her exceptional care, her response was telling: “I know they don’t have the ability to have family visit them during this pandemic, so I become their family while they are here,” said Benton.
“Emma epitomizes everything a healthcare worker should be—patients are truly at the heart of everything she does,” said Aramark Vice President of Operations Steve E.