Alumnae making their mark during COVID-19
Our mission of educating girls and young women to think critically, to lead confidently, and to live honorably has never been more important. We wish to express our sincere thanks to the many Harpeth Hall alumnae who are taking action and combating the challenges of this pandemic. The Alumnae Office reached out to alumnae in the healthcare field, in the trenches on the frontlines and behind the scenes, to learn more about their remarkable service to humanity during this unprecedented time in our world. For some of our alumnae professionals, this pandemic has been a slowing down of sorts, even a recalibration ... moving to telemedicine and virtual visits. But for others, the COVID-19 environment has rapidly ramped up their work with a surge of critically ill patients. We are proud to share a few examples.
Dr. Mary Laird Warner Stewart '82 is a Physician in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Swedish Medical Center in Denver, Colorado and has been extremely busy with her full intensivist shifts and serving as the president of the medical staff. She shared an account of an ICU patient in her care early in the pandemic who fortunately recovered and is now at home. Click here to view a video clip from a local news station covering the story.
Mallory Atkins Goodson '05, Nursing Unit Director at Emory Decatur Hospital, says being a nurse in this time has been "extremely overwhelming and mentally exhausting to say the least." But she is also happy to share that the amount of support the staff have been receiving has been unexpected and moving. "Residents of Atlanta are coming out on their porches at change of shift to cheer for the nursing staff coming in and out of the hospital. There are signs posted on lawns saying, 'We support Emory Healthcare Workers'. As I walk around my neighborhood to decompress, there are hearts in the windows showing support and spreading love. There are luminaries lining driveways as a symbol of gratitude." Another bright spot found during this unsettling time is that the staff at the hospital are coming together in a way she has never seen before, both among units and across departments. Uncertainty and lack of control continue, but she remarks, "if we practice strict social distancing and continue to spread kindness, we will get through this and be better for it."
Erin Anderson '14 lives in New York City and usually works as a Pediatric ICU Nurse at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. Her unit was converted to a COVID unit, and the nurses were trained and deployed to work in the ICU with COVID patients. She is serving on the front lines caring for some of the sickest patients of this virus.
Martha Humphries Lott '79 is a NICU nurse at Vanderbilt and says the most difficult part for her has been helping the families navigate the time they can and can't see their newborn babies. She says, "We have all shed tears together while acknowledging the upside of keeping the babies as safe as possible."
Dr. Christina Mishu Rosean '07, an audiologist writes that her hospital, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago, closed all outpatient appointments. Since Audiology is in the both outpatient and inpatient settings, she is only performing inpatient procedures currently. When she is not seeing inpatients, she is "deployed" to work in other areas of the hospital where needed. She believes that resilience is of utmost importance during this time, especially in the hospital setting. Things seemed to be changing not just by the day, but even by the hour with new procedures, protocols, guidelines, etc. She says, "This has been quite an adventure, and I really do believe a lot of positive will come out of this."
Susanna Trabue Navyac '93 is a nurse practitioner at an OB/GYN office in Nashville and is seeing the benefits of social distancing. She says, "In a sense, we are all frontline workers as we do our individual part. I recognize not only the inconvenience of social distancing but the ensuing loneliness, sadness, and disappointment many are feeling. Allow yourself to feel what you feel and to remember, as in all things, this too shall pass."
Dr. Hannah Menefee Dudney '04, an OB/GYN doctor at Centennial Women's Group says that healthcare is rapidly changing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are positioning themselves to be able to continue to provide the highest quality care to their patients. Her office is excited to be able to offer drive-up prenatal care for their obstetric patients as a safe alternative to office-based care. Parents are dealing with new challenges such as homeschooling, loss of jobs, and financial hardships. They are striving to eliminate barriers to care by making prenatal care quick, convenient and safe. The drive-up model is another way to receive care in addition to telemedicine and traditional office-based visits, which they continue to offer.
Another area that is vitally important during this pandemic is mental health. Dr. Janna Larson '00 is a child and adolescent psychiatrist in the San Diego area. She commented that she is amazed at how our children continue to be our best teachers. Of course, many of her patients are showing increases in anxiety due to the uncertainty of the future but she writes, "I have been struck at the resilience of kids and how well they are able to adapt to unpredictable circumstances. I am seeing it in my own children as well - their entire routine has been hijacked, and yet they are still happy to just search for bugs in the backyard." She wants to reiterate that the collective anxiety we are all experiencing is a normal response to the unknown and that we will all get through this together.
In addition, there is an alumna working to help with crucial equipment. Leanne Little West '87 is Chief Engineer Pediatric Technologies at Georgia Institute of Technology, and they are collaborating with local hospitals in Atlanta, as well as national consortiums to bring PPE (personal protective equipment) to clinicians on the front line. They are also confirming the best ways to decontaminate masks, only meant to be worn once, to be able to use them multiple times during this emergency. Click here to view how Georgia Tech is making a difference.
Meanwhile college alumnae Lia Hayduk '18 and Caroline Kiesling '18, both students at Vanderbilt University, launched a charitable organization called "Fuel Our Heroes Nashville" to raise money for heroic healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 on the front-lines at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The mission is to help medical professionals by providing food, fuel, and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Click here to support Fuel Our Heroes Nashville.
Building on the firm foundation of their Harpeth Hall education, our alumnae are making their mark on this world in extraordinary ways. You may find other stories of courageous and caring alumnae in their communities on the Harpeth Hall Alumnae Bright Spots and Resources webpage. If you know of other alumnae responding bravely in their communities here or abroad, please send names and any information to the Alumnae Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.