ROI Influencers: Health Care 2020 (Unsung heroes, N to Z)

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
Security officers 

Throughout the pandemic, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s Security Team has been at every entrance screening patients, employees and visitors. They helped transport emergency room patients, and the team of 79 officers assisted in “proning” critically ill patients, manually turning a patient in a synchronized pattern to improve respiratory function. They also took on the solemn duty of caring for those who succumbed to the virus. 

Newton Medical Center
Randolph Parks
Manager, spiritual services

Through very tough times and conditions, Randy Parks stepped up to lift the spirits of everyone that he met. This is a phenomenal feat, considering Parks was on the front lines of much of the devastating effects of COVID-19, yet he brought a positive attitude to our Leadership Huddles every day, coordinated poem readings, and truly brought a raised sense of hope and healing to the team.

Ocean Medical Center
David Russ
Engineer, Maintenance and Engineering Department

David Russ helped transform 46 negative pressure rooms to 132 rooms, allowing the medical center to safely care for COVID-positive patients. His creativity continued as he built over 100 Plexiglas barriers to protect our team members and community. He also was instrumental in the design and fabrication of an intubation box to keep clinicians safe, and portable walls to separate clinical areas as needed.

Overlook Medical Center
Austin Murphy
Director, facilities and clinical engineering

Austin Murphy helped lead the transformation of several units into new ICUs, boosting Overlook’s critical care beds from 40 to 90 in two weeks. His ability to use innovative methods to succeed has been nothing short of incredible. Murphy used a 3D printer to create devices to enhance with PPE. His creation of a “Y” adapter for the ventilator patient circuits allowed us to adapt to national shortages of tubing.

Palisades Medical Center
Nicole Nerli
Occupational therapist

During the COVID-19 surge at Palisades Medical Center, our physical, occupational and speech therapy teams were redeployed to the front lines to assist our nursing teams in the care of our patients. During this very alarming and uncertain time, there was always one specific team member whose positivity, dedication, bravery and compassion never wavered. It was Nicole Nerli.

Raritan Bay Medical Center
Suzanne Zadlock
Environmental services

As an environmental services aide at Raritan Bay Medical Center Old Bridge for 40 years, Suzanne Zadlock rigorously cleans and sanitizes the operating rooms for the next patient. With exposure to the same pathogens as the first responders, the stress and emotional toll of the pandemic can be equally challenging for these team members. Zadlock not only met the challenge, she went beyond the call of duty.

Riverview Medical Center
Derek Englese
Manager of site security

Derek Englese has been with Riverview Medical Center since January 2019 and serves as head of security for the hospital, currently overseeing 25 team members. Since the first possible case of COVID-19, Englese has been an integral part of Riverview’s readiness both on and off site. He remained in constant communication with our local emergency management and school districts. 

RWJUH Hamilton
Ang Low
Supervisor, respiratory care

With so many patients in need of respiratory therapy expertise and support during the first COVID-19 surge, respiratory therapists were thrust to the forefront, now a clearly visible and crucial weapon in the fight against that virus. Ang Low, who has been a respiratory therapist for more than two decades, showed leadership that brought stability, clarity and confidence during a tumultuous and uncertain time.

RWJUH New Brunswick
Stephanie Welch
Morgue assistant, Department of Pathology

Stephanie Welch is a morgue assistant who consistently went above and beyond under extremely difficult circumstances. She worked closely with our pathologists, patient transporters, security and local funeral directors to help make final arrangements for COVID-19 victims and their families. Said one coworker: “Stephanie has worked tirelessly to take care of our patients after death with the respect that they deserve.”

RWJUH Rahway
William Kelly
Director of facilities

William Kelly and his engineering team increased the number of negative pressure patient rooms, deployed air scrubbers throughout and outfitted all units with HEPA air filters — and they transformed the hospital’s recovery unit to an extra critical care unit. They also helped source extra PPE, installed temperature stations for entering employees, created rooms to don and doff equipment, and improved filtration and flow in conference rooms.

RWJUH Somerset
Lester Rafols
Manager, facility operations

Lester Rafols and his team used their ingenuity to install conduits in the walls of the patient rooms on the Critical Care Unit. This allowed patients’ IV tubing to connect to pumps outside the rooms. Having access to the pumps outside COVID-19 patients’ rooms reduced the number of times nurses needed to enter the rooms, limiting their exposure to the virus while preserving critical PPE.

Saint Barnabas Medical Center
Engineering Department

There is no one individual, but the entire group that worked tirelessly to address any facility need throughout the pandemic. These men and women were available 24/7 to address the complex and changing needs of the organization, such as constructing tents, assisting our EMS partners, retrieving additional beds from collaborating organizations, creating temporary areas to triage patients and converting scores of rooms into negative pressure rooms.

St. Joseph’s Health
Steven Leet
Mechanic, engineering and maintenance

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, mechanic Steven Leet was instrumental in helping the nursing team keep its eyes on patients. Leet developed a process to install windows on patient room doors so nurses had continuous visibility with each and every patient, helping them stay safe and save PPE.

Saint Peter’s University Hospital
Julia Kinsey
Supervisor of food and nutrition services

Julia Kinsey, who was 19 when she started working at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, recently turned 80 years old and celebrated 60 years of service at Saint Peter’s. What is even more impressive is that this octogenarian has continued to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, not missing a single day of work. While family members and coworkers gently suggested she consider a temporary leave of absence due to her age and the virus, she wouldn’t hear of it. 

“I love my job, both the people I work with and the people I work for,” she said. “During the crisis, I felt even more urgency to make my patients happy. I try to make each meal tray special and attractive.” 

Kinsey believes it’s the little things that can make a difference in someone’s day. Her philosophy is to treat others like she would treat her own family, and that commitment has resulted in many of her coworkers seeing her as more than a supervisor — as a mentor, friend and even family. Asked about the key to her longevity at Saint Peter’s, Kinsey said her coworkers are like family. She went on to explain that it is not just the 100-plus workers in Culinary and Nutrition Services, but the individuals in other departments with whom she interfaces. “We share a sense of compassionate care and dedication to those we serve. It’s this comradery and commitment that is at the heart of Saint Peter’s.” 

Shore Medical Center
Leanne Chanley
Licensed practical nurse, employee health team

Somewhat overlooked during the pandemic was the impact the virus had on the staff of hospitals. Leanne Chanley made sure the staff at Shore Medical Center always was top of mind. She helped create a seven-day-a-week hotline to answer staff and manager questions, she helped coordinated the COVID-19 testing for staff — and helped develop policies for positive and negative outcomes.

Southern Ocean Medical Center
Kari Ormando
Administrative assistant

Kari Ormando is an administrative assistant at Hackensack Meridian Health’s Southern Ocean Medical Center. When the COVID-19 Command Center opened at the medical center, she immediately took charge of the day-to-day functions by tracking testing of patients, reporting on the daily numbers of positive patients and those discharged, and securing the PPE. Her work was vital to the smooth operation at Southern Ocean Medical Center during these challenging times. 

Trinitas Regional Medical Center
Ivet Hernandez
Intensive Care Unit coordinator

A graduate of the Trinitas School of Nursing, Ivet Hernandez became a homegrown superhero during the height of the pandemic. She handled the frantic need for more ICU beds with high spirits and exceptional grace, facilitating admissions and transfers, and even taking on other people’s patients when her colleagues needed a break. Her tireless efforts were noted and appreciated by all.

University Hospital
Heather Saurel
Social worker

Heather Suarel, a recent social work graduate, worked in the Medical Intensive Care Unit, where she exhibited courage and compassion, including arranging meaningful coordination with families at a time when they couldn’t be at their loved ones’ side. She also kept her team’s spirits high, providing a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace” on a staff call. It soothed hearts and spirits during a much-needed time.

The Valley Hospital
Katrina Djonovic
Environmental service associate

Katrina Djonovic is a person that shows strength through her actions. As the COVID-19 pandemic surged in Valley Hospital, Djonovic was unwavering in her ability as an expert to disinfect facilities and patient rooms. She canceled her vacation plans and worked additional shifts on off hours to fill gaps and strengthen the Environmental Service Department as a team, becoming a true hero at one of the state’s hardest-hit hospitals.

Virtua Marlton Hospital
Pier Lavecchio
CT technologist

CT scans quickly became an important diagnostic tool for COVID patients, resulting in increased demand for this imaging service. But the scan room and equipment had to be completely cleaned between each patient. The CT department was in danger of becoming overwhelmed, but Pier Lavecchio quickly took charge, creating a flow that ensured patients received timely and safe care and the CT staff was well-protected.

Virtua Memorial Hospital
Tessa Selin
Respiratory care clinical coordinator

During the buildup and height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the respiratory therapy team at Virtua Memorial Hospital was instrumental in managing the care of patients on ventilators. Tessa Selin demonstrated true leadership in training and educating her colleagues on the various ventilator models and provided thoughtful, compassionate care to the ventilated patients.

Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital
Michael O’Brien
Manager, perioperative supply chain

From the start, Michael O’Brien took it upon himself to develop a process to organize and distribute PPE. He supported the hospital nursing units and ancillary departments, ensuring they had the necessary supplies in a timely manner to care for the patients and to keep everyone safe. He continually meets and educates the staff on the required supplies and communicating any substitutions or potential shortages.

Virtua Voorhees Hospital
Antoine Ketler
Environmental services worker

Antoine Ketler takes on any task without hesitation. These tasks include responsibilities outside of his daily duty list, as well as assisting outside vendors in COVID areas (such as assisting Stericycle with the removal of needle boxes in quarantined isolation patient rooms). Ketler seeks out tasks that other colleagues are not comfortable with and completes them while maintaining a positive attitude.

Virtua Willingboro Hospital
Cindy Gwin
Unit secretary, Intensive Care Unit

Cindy Gwin is a true hero at Virtua Willingboro. In addition to her regular duties, Cindy coordinates family/patient communication, sets up Zoom meetings and keeps the unit stocked with PPE. And her efforts were not confined to her unit: Gwin can be found throughout the hospital, assisting any and all who needed help — with a smile, encouraging word, and amazing attitude during an unprecedented time.

(Read the rest of the list.)