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UW Health’s healthcare heroes have stepped up

March 5, 2021

The staff of F6/5 general internal medicine, otherwise known as the “COVID unit” as of March 2020, transformed to provide care to patients suspected of, or confirmed to have COVID-19. Photo courtesy of UW Health

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, thousands of UW Health employees on the front lines stepped up to meet the challenge head on.

Their roles range from administering tests to caring for patients to ramping up telehealth, and they’ve worked long hours to help all of us through this difficult time.

UW Health honors these healthcare heroes for their dedication, and many others:

The virtual team quickly ramped up virtual care during the pandemic by building the physical hardware and information systems to let providers see patients virtually. Video visits to health care providers remain an important part of the mix. “I can’t say enough about the incredible effort, long hours and dedication this team made to provide our patients and providers with a service they desperately needed during this pandemic,” said Tom Brazelton, medical director of the UW Health Telehealth Program. Read more.

The infection control and prevention team has played a critical role in helping UW Health cope with the increased COVID-19 cases. “With hand hygiene, PPE and environmental sanitation standing as important cornerstones of our COVID-19 pandemic response, I see staff reflecting and changing the way they look at all infection control practices long after the pandemic is over,” said Michelle Schmitz, infection control practitioner. Read more.

Lab technicians at UW Health add shifts to provide 24/7 testing, as quick, accurate lab testing is one of the most effective ways to control the outbreak. “I feel like we have a pretty good group of people here that have made it happen.” Watch this video.

The COVID unit, meaning the  staff of F6/5 general internal medicine, transformed in March 2020 to provide care to patients suspected of, or confirmed to have COVID-19. “I realized during this time just how much support family brings and, lacking that, how much these patients rely on us to talk with them, to console them when they need it, and to become one of their most consistent sources of support while they’re here,” said Kaitlyn Wallin, a nurse on F6/5. Read more.

The medical technologists, specimen receiving technicians, pathology faculty, development specialists, lab quality and many lab leaders have helped UW Health run nearly 200,000 COVID-19 tests in the year since the pandemic hit. They’ve often worked 80-100 hours per week to achieve this remarkable feat. Some weeks they ran as many as 1,100 COVID-19 test per day. Read more.

Patient navigators at UW Health have needed to get creative to ensure that cancer screenings continue during the pandemic. “I started calling everyone I could, I started writing letters and emails to build relationships any way I could,” said Ana Karina Burton. Read more.

Nephrology nurses have played a critical role in treating and supporting COVID-19 patients, as many experience acute kidney injury. Watch this video.

The phlebotomy team has ramped up to help collect more than 20,000 COVID-19 antibody tests, and also managed lab collections from patients with coronavirus. Watch this video.