Serving Compassionately During a Pandemic

Monday, April 19, 2021

A Note of Thanks to Our BSVM Alums:
Serving Compassionately During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry is a home for many ministry volunteers who move on to work in health care after their year of service, following the legacy of the Congregation of the Sisters of Bon Secours. With so many BSVM alums in the field, serving in a variety of settings, we asked them to share their experiences of service during the pandemic. We are grateful for the responses we received and for their continued dedication to healing, compassion, and liberation.

To all alums working on the frontlines and to those serving in any way during COVID-19, we say thank you!

Danielle as a ministry volunteer (BSVM ’06-’07)

Danielle Madison Warren (’06-’07) – Grace Medical Center, Baltimore, MD –  a graduate of the University of Notre Dame

I am an Emergency Physician and have been working with COVID patients on a daily basis for the last year. I have also been serving on a nation-wide task force of Emergency Medicine physicians. Our goal is to share updates in PPE and treatment protocols and to improve the quality of care for patients as new research and information are continuously being published. My career has come full circle as in February of 2021 I took a new position at Grace Medical Center and am excited to be serving the population of West Baltimore again!

Crystal Truong (’08-’09) – Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany -a graduate of the University of Notre Dame

Crystal gets vaccinated

As an Internal Medicine clinic doctor, I rotate through and take care of patients on our dedicated inpatient COVID-19 unit, as well as provide follow-up after discharge. In our Outpatient Primary Care clinic, we were able to transition to mainly virtual appointments. Since receiving our vaccine doses at the beginning of the new year, we have been able to slowly schedule more routine in-person office visits.

Nadya Alboschy (’09-’10) – University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD – a graduate of Kings College

Nadya in the ICU

As an ICU nurse on the COVID frontline, there have been physical, mental, and emotional challenges for which I could never have been prepared. In the early months of the pandemic, the incredibly strong support shown across the board from hospital workers and the community was overwhelming. It’s often what kept us going through the twelve-plus hour shifts. There continue to be many moments that we, as nurses, share and talk about as we work alongside one another. We share about the fear and unknown, the risks we are taking and possibly bringing home to our loved ones, the difficult decisions that had to be made, and the patients we can’t forget. It is a way for us to vent, reflect, and look forward to better times. I am so incredibly thankful for all of the frontline workers who have fought and who continue to keep us safe.

Julie McCracken (’12-’13) – Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD – a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross

Julie in Baltimore during her service year

I’m a full-time PA in Neurosurgery at Hopkins. For the most part my position has remained the same, although we transitioned to telemedicine and focused on more urgent surgeries (e.g. spine cancer and emergency cases). In May of 2020, I was redeployed to a COVID step-down unit for 6 weeks. More recently, I’ve helped with vaccine administration both through Johns Hopkins and the Baltimore City Health Department.

Meghan with her Site Supervisor in BSVM

Meghan Krueger (’14-’15) – Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, Boston, MA – a graduate of the University of Notre Dame

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I am grateful to be working for Boston Healthcare for the Homeless. There has been great fluctuation in my role over the last year. This has included staffing our temporary isolation and quarantine spaces for patients who are waiting for test results for COVID-19 or who had been exposed to COVID-19, and writing policies and conducting infection control trainings for staff as we prepared to reopen services after the first wave of the pandemic. Most recently, I have been honored to be a part of our program’s vaccination efforts for our staff, our shelter partner staff and guests, as well as our patients who are eligible for vaccination. The hopefulness that I feel amidst our current vaccination efforts has been incredibly energizing.

Abbi Cerezo (’16-’17) – Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA – a graduate of Stonehill College

Abbi during her BSVM year

As a fourth-year medical student, my favorite part of working in the hospital was sitting with patients, helping them feel more at home during their stressful hospital stay, and sharing stories with them. COVID-19 obviously changed the way we worked with patients. Everyone had to be in gowns, gloves, face shields, and double-masked before entering a patient room. Initially, we were told to stay in the rooms for as little time as possible. As the pandemic went on, I started having end-of-life conversations with patients. I wanted to make sure that patients and their families had a sense of closure and connectedness, even if they couldn’t all be together in the hospital. With all of my personal protective equipment on, I made sure to hold hands with my patients and ensure they could see my eyes. I gave my personal cell phone number and Zoom link out to families so we could chat on my time off. It was important that families knew who was taking care of their loved ones and that patients could see their families over Zoom. These experiences were definitely hard. I shared tears with people and my heart broke. At the same time, I helped bridge people together during such a horrible time. One of the lessons I learned from COVID-19 was that in difficult times we need to reach out and remember our humanity because fear will try and take that away from us. It was an incredible privilege to be there supporting my patients during these unprecedented times.

Maggie Rybak (’18-’19) – Case Western University, Cleveland, OH – a graduate of John Carroll University

Maggie during her BSVM year

Since July of 2020, I have been a contact tracer with the Ohio Department of Health. We help the county health departments throughout the state handle surges. On a day to day basis, I complete interviews with Ohioans to collect data, prevent further spread, and help support those who are sick or isolated. My work is mostly about being a compassionate presence with a dash of epidemiology. I get to hear about peoples’ real experiences with COVID-19 each day, and sometimes be one of the few people they talk to during their time in isolation.

Chris Dethelfs (’18-’19) – University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE – a graduate of the University of Notre Dame

Chris at a community garden in Omaha

Chris and fellow students from the University of Nebraska Medical Center helped maintain and harvest a local community garden in Omaha. Fresh produce from the garden was delivered weekly to a food pantry at a local community health center during the pandemic.