Covid-19 Heroes

The Coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll in many ways: on human life and health, jobs and the economy, people’s families and mental health, and much more. The extraordinary hospital employees below have been nominated by colleagues for their efforts on behalf of others in the battle against the major health crisis of our time. The DFWHC Foundation congratulates them!

Do you have someone you’d like to nominate? Submissions are open through March 31, 2021. Click here.

Alice Kern-Kirby, Director of Nursing

Baylor, Scott & White – Plano

“Alice worked to motivate her teams daily to learn and care for critically ill patients from the car to home. Despite the many changes and challenges, Alice worked to operational change for her team and our facility. She worked many days around the clock in the beginning to ensure patients received care and the staff was safe. She ensured mask fitting of staff and physicians, wayfinding, cleaning for elevators, set up screening, drive through swabs, education on proning, establish ER tents, monitoring air flow on units and much more. She was tireless in her efforts to ensure safety of staff through walking with them in every process.

While nurses took on much responsibility in our covid containment units, Alice ensured she walked beside them to model leadership. We thank her for her support and see evidence of safety in care with lower than national average exposure rates for staff. Hats off to Alice!”

Mindy Henry, Supervisor, ICU

Baylor, Scott & White – Plano

“Mindy is a supervisor on a COVID ICU containment unit on nights. She has worked to ensure the safety of her team but ensure PPE and proper technique in donning and doffing and ensures that the primary care of the nurses and team does not lack or miss a beat! Many times, Mindy was called to aid her team in care, cleaning, transporting, using new technology and just providing much needed emotional support. Mindy travels many miles to work at our facility and is passionate about providing care to our DFW community. She has been an inspiration for the staff and patients throughout this pandemic.”

Toni Jo Hayward, Registered Nurse

Baylor, Scott & White – Plano

“Toni Jo is a perioperative RN who found herself without elective patients during the early covid days. She was a person who always looks for opportunities to help whether an ambassador for patient experience or just wayfinding assistance for a lost visitor – Toni Jo is there. During the early days of the pandemic Toni would ask- how can I help? She was quickly called upon to set up screening at the front door, ensure the safety of patients, staff and visitors. During this early time, Toni used her clinical knowledge to assist in helping other allay their fears, answer questions, and just smile and be present. Toni Jo sought to always help in whatever she could do to assist administration or her own team members. She wore so many hats during the pandemic but never lost her smile! We are so very grateful for Toni and her positive attitude and clinical knowledge and support. She is proof we are all in it together!”

Mario Jones, Director of Supply Chain Operations

Baylor, Scott & White – Plano

“During the Covid-19 crisis, Mario Jones handled all our supply and PPE needs for Baylor Scott and White Medical Center Plano and Baylor Scott and White Heart Hospital in Plano. He kept up with system supplies and made sure we never had a shortage. He was proactive and always seemed to have a solution, before the problem arose. He was calm and steady, and sometimes even funny. He is a great communicator, and works in collaboration with nursing. He brought up new ideas, and quickly sought out system solutions that we could incorporate into our own plan. He was accessible and always comforting to those in need. He helped secure donations, came up with innovative ideas, and made sure they were accounted for before funneling them to the correct place within the hospital and the system. Mario is an amazing leader, always willing to accommodate anyone in need-from patients to employees. His colleagues respect Mario and often comment on his strong leadership. I’m proud to work with and nominate Mario for this award. His strong work along with others led to extremely low conversion rates for BSW. Together, we provided a safe place for all.”

Jonathan Morgan, Nurse Manager

Baylor University Medical Center – Dallas

“Jonathan Morgan MSN, RN, CCRN is the manager of a 40-bed Medical ICU at Baylor University Medical Center.

As the leader of the first ICU COVID-19 containment unit at Baylor University Medical Center, Jonathan facilitated a multi-disciplinary effort to plan and execute new processes in multiple areas including staffing, equipment, PPE use, and patient care to ensure appropriate safety for patients and staff while maintaining high quality care.

Jonathan also worked to develop a premier infection prevention process to protect our caregivers. These innovations and his partnership with medical staff and infection prevention have led to zero occurrences of infection among his team. His processes for donning and doffing PPE and safe transport have been replicated across the hospital as best practices in infection prevention. His leadership and dedication shine through in this time of national health crisis.

We salute Jonathan for his never quit, we-are-in-it-together mental fortitude in the care of our critical patients and the well-being of his team. Jonathan is true Covid-19 Hero!”

Dr. Catherine Raver, Medical Director, Hospital Medicine

Baylor University Medical Center – Dallas

“Dr Raver is the medical director of HMD – the hospitalist group at BUMC with more than 100 providers under her leadership. She led the efforts not only of direct patient care for COVID 19 patients at our facility but also, along with her team, was on the front lines of forming protocols and management plans for the entire BSWH system. She has led by example, with grace and level of empathy that has been inspiring.”

Rob Richards, CCO

Kindred Hospital – Arlington

 Rob has been with Kindred for five years as a Nurse Manager and was promoted to CCO in May, 2017. Rob leads a team of 168 hospital personnel that includes nurses, respiratory technicians, C.N.A’s, physical therapist, radiology technicians, dietitians and pharmacy personnel.

During the massive outbreak of Covid-19 at the Federal Corrections in Fort Worth, Kindred Hospital – Tarrant County Arlington was JPS’s preferred surge facility. Rob immediately embraced the challenge and helped to stem the tide while levitating the influx of COVID positive patients. Rob worked tirelessly to get the facility up and running in days to ensure patient safety while staff remained safe.

Rob has been a shining star in the darkest of nights, with his stellar ability to lead a team, while providing a safe environment for the hospital personnel. Rob and his team have also given strength of hope, healing and recovery to those who have effected by Covid-19. A true leader that has both feet planted on the ground..!”

Craig Brein, Manager of Emergency Preparedness

Medical City – Dallas

“Craig is the Manager of Emergency Preparedness for Medical City Dallas, Medical City Children’s, and Medical City Heart and Spine Hospitals. Throughout this event he has continued to go above and beyond to do what it takes to ensure the staff and facilities are supported in order to continue to put patient care first. He supports the leadership, staff, and physicians of the hospitals to ensure they have what they need to continue to put the care and improvement of human life above all else. Craig’s work also goes beyond the hospital as well, he is volunteers with the Texas State Guard as a Second Lieutenant in the Texas Emergency Operations Center to help coordinate statewide response efforts to this event.”

Dawn Normoyle, Clinical Resource Director

Medical City – Dallas

“Dawn was intuitive from the very beginning. She focused on ways to adjust and make patient care easier for providers and front line nurses. She came up with the idea to put hand sanitizer on IV poles, plastic drapes for barriers for anesthesia, constantly making sure that teams were safe. During this time she broke her ankle, and still pushed herself to make sure everyone had what they needed. Though she has not been in direct patient care, she has been working diligently behind the scenes.”

Lori Stevens, Microbiology Lab Supervisor

Medical City – Dallas

“Lori has been at Medical City Dallas since January 1, 2005. She has always been a star leading her staff to be the first ones to get their Influenza Vaccine, complete any requirements, and support Medical City Dallas patients and staff.

In the beginning of COVID back in January, Lori was instrumental in searching and requesting the reagent and supplies needed for testing. She created reports to communicate what was needed to test and worked with her director and senior leader to be the first lab in HCA North Texas to fun COVID tests. her response to any request, let’s see how we can accomplish that goal. She recently created a report to provide employee testing results for us and division.

It is people like Lori that support behind the scenes for Medical City Dallas to provide excellence in patient care.”

Dolores Diaz, Nurse Manager, Medical Services Program

Parkland Health & Hospital System

“This nurse leader leads by example. She is in the trenches with her team, often working long 12-hour shifts five times a week. Her singular focus is to ensure her team has adequate support and supplies. She is resilient and ensures that she portrays a positive attitude to her team.

She has worked in our hospital since she first became a nurse, which was inspired by the death of her younger brother. In addition to the leading the COVID-19 drive-through testing, she is the manager of the homeless program which provides health care services for unsheltered residents in Dallas County. She loves to reward and recognize other nurses. She serves as the DAISY Committee co-chair in our hospital. Dolores has been featured in Dallas Morning News and was recognized by Texas in InStyle Magazine’s 50 medical personnel and the Univision Network.”

Jonathan Abalos, Nursing Operations Specialist, Ambulatory Specialties Clinic Admin

Parkland Health & Hospital System

“In March of 2020, after being tasked with creating a COVID-19 result call center, Jonathan sprang into action and put together a team of 4 nurses to assist with the task. From scratch, he created educational material for patients, training material for the team, guidance on workflow and daily operations. He also made calls to hundreds of patients and as the volumes grew he trained over 200 additional staff to assist with the crisis. He coordinated internal processes that needed high level staff in IT, Clinical Care, Public Health and Administration to get the job done.

Jonathan still seamlessly completes his duties as NOS for Outpatient Clinics while even assisting with COVID needs in the Jail. He has since helped to create another large call center for non-Parkland patients, organized meetings with Spark for staff to help with the emotional strain associated with such traumatic events.”

Klava St. John, Registered Nurse

Texas Health Harris Methodist Southwest Fort Worth

“Klava St. John, B.S.N., R.N., PCCN, NCAP-V, helped translate for a Russian family during the father’s last days at Texas Health Southwest. At the age of 88, the patient was awaiting test results for COVID-19 and he was not doing well. Not only was he in a frightening situation, but he spoke only Russian and couldn’t grasp what his caregivers — anonymous-looking in personal protective equipment — were saying to him at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth. The progressive care unit had become a COVID-19 unit with no visitors allowed, so his daughters could not come see him. And because the man was lethargic, care teams were having problems assessing his neurological state. Nurse Klava St. John, B.S.N., R.N., PCCN, NCAP-V, stepped in to help. A Russia native who moved with her family to the U.S. when she was 12, she is fluent in the language. “I went in to translate for the doctor and found out the patient had been very confused, barely speaking and giving one-word answers, really struggling to breathe and overall very uncomfortable,” she said. But the minute she spoke to him, he began to respond. Klava learned the man was what she calls a “true Russian.” He had never owned a car, walked everywhere he went, cooked for himself daily and was very independent. He had been in the U.S. for a time, but had never been in any hospital before. One evening he had felt well enough to place some meat in the sink to thaw. In the next 24 hours, he became too ill to function. “He went from being totally normal to being in a hospital in America and in a COVID unit at that,” Klava said. Test results: positive Over the next few days, his condition continued to decline. As he continued to grow sicker, Klava took on the difficult role of helping his daughters to decide whether he should be kept alive using life support or allowed to die naturally. She spoke with them in Russian on the phone. One daughter wanted only for her father to be comfortable and felt he wouldn’t be if he were on life support. But the other was struggling, Klava said. “She got very emotional and they couldn’t quite meet each other on the same page,” she said. With Klava’s help, she was able to talk to her father on the phone. “They had a 10-minute conversation and he rallied that night,” Klava said. “He was able to feed himself dinner.” Near the end of the conversation, he was able to say, “I love you, my daughter.” When she asked if he was in pain, he responded. “The only thing that’s in pain is my soul.” Then, Klava said, the daughter realized it would soon be time to let him go. A few hours later, he took a turn for the worse. Klava reached out to both daughters and they decided on a do not resuscitate order. Klava worked closely with the patient and his daughters to discuss their wishes and his. She helped them to stay connected during his final days and hours, providing them with closure. After his death, his test result came in: He was positive for COVID-19. Later, Dr. Kevin Conley, M.D., the pulmonologist who cared for the man, said Klava’s contribution was invaluable. In a nomination for a Texas Health Applause award, he said: “Without her help, the patient would’ve been intubated and certainly would have died regardless of our care, but it would have potentially exposed multiple other people and utilized resources in a futile effort and likely would have increased the patient suffering at the end of his life. “I really appreciate her efforts. She has helped me before with a Russian-speaking family in a difficult situation. We are very lucky to have her.” Gretchen Hunt, hospital chief nursing officer, said she is proud of Klava and of all the hospital’s nurses, particularly during the grueling time of COVID-19. “Klava exemplifies what our caregivers have always been — compassionate, skilled and devoted to the art of nursing,” she said. “I am grateful to them for their bravery during the pandemic.”

Cara Slaybaug, Radiologist Technologist

UT Southwestern University Hospitals

“A letter from mom Adrienne Barker: Please take the time to read and catch a glimpse of my daughter, a radiologic technologist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Cara is on the front lines in the fight against COVID. Since Cara lives with another healthcare professional. She has volunteered to do all x-rays on all COVID patients in the ER and ICU during all her weekly shifts working 10-hour shifts, & volunteering for weekend shifts. I’m explicitly nominating her because we hear a lot about nurses and doctors who are doing incredible work; however, there is very little recognition for someone like Cara and her team members in imaging. EVERY #COVID #patient has numerous chest x-rays. Radiologic technologists must suit up in full PPE, multiple times a day and take care of many patients. I’m glad to have gotten this opportunity to let you know how many radiologic technologists are working hard behind the scenes. They are workhorses that capture diagnostic images so that physicians and nurses can do their part to heal patients. Radiologic technologists are warriors!”

Charina Bautista, Registered Nurse

UT Southwestern University Hospitals

“She has gone above and beyond during Covid 19, takes care of Covid patients, shows compassion, love and kindness. I am so proud of this nurse.”

Darby Oney, Radiologic Technologist

UT Southwestern University Hospitals

“Darby was a new imaging technologist and new to UTSW a month before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Without hesitation, she volunteered to be one of a few imaging technologists to perform chest x-rays on PUI and COVID + patients. Her willingness to do this helped the department in providing a team that was well versed with donning and doffing of PPE as well as provided her the opportunity to train others on the appropriate manner of performing imaging studies on these type of patients.”

Jessica Yi, Registered Nurse

UT Southwestern University Hospitals

“Jessica has been an outstanding nursing, both pre-COVID19 and during. She has handled emergency situations with grace. She consistently goes above and beyond for her patients, always putting their needs before hers. She is an excellent communicator – expressing patient and her needs with the nursing staff, doctors, and other healthcare teams. She always makes those around her feel welcome by routinely checking on the staff, regardless of what unit they come from. She is always willing to teach, strives to learn each day with any and all new changes, and has maintained a positive outlook throughout the pandemic. She inspires us to be better nurses, to rise up to challenges, and out pandemic response would not be the same without her.”

Kim Pongsatianwong, Ultrasound Team Lead

UT Southwestern University Hospitals – Clements

“Kim Pong is a fellow imaging team lead here at UTSW. Her leadership during this pandemic has been extraordinary. When members of her team were quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19, she was able to supplement assistance and both educated and keep her team and others calm while keeping a brave face. Her passion for keeping everyone- not just her team- safe during these scary times makes her a COVID-19 Hero.”

“Kim Pong is an astounding Team Lead for the Ultrasound Department at the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center at Clements University. Her work during the COVID pandemic led to levels of leadership that were brilliant to watch unfold. Several immediate impacts dealt with sanitizing the ultrasound machines with chemicals that effectively eradicated the virus, yet were not caustic to the delicate ultrasound machines and probes. With alternatives sought out, specific machines were identified and dispatched to locations where COVID cases could safely be done. Kim and the ultrasound team streamlined donning/doffing and had buddy assistants till the team was comfortable changing into and out of the personal protective equipment for patient care missions happening inside and outside the COVID rooms. Kim collaborated with the diagnostic x-ray department and continued the best practice to document what each ultrasound technologist wore in every exam in the electronic healthcare record. This was key as some of the initial testings of the COVID status would be negative, and then re-testing came back positive. Due to the community spread, quarantined employees became a challenge. Occupational Health reviewed each case, and the quarantine dates for each employee varied. At one point, with overlapping times, half of the ultrasound team was quarantined, yet Kim’s strong leadership continued. With creative shifts, and working with the outpatient ultrasound technologists; she ensured continual and unwavering coverage that kept up with the hospital census. Throughout this ordeal, Kim remained calm, kept up the team spirit, and put in appreciation cards for her peers. She sent weekly updates to communicate all the changes; she laminated new workflows, was available 24/7 for questions, and the most amazing part was she kept her sense of humor. This by far had the most impact on the team. Her team is amazing. The ultrasound team rallied to meet the department needs; they switched shifts, covered for each other, and picked up additional call. It was indeed a phenomenal experience to see the team reflect the hard work and dedication of their Team Lead, Kim. To add to Kim’s fantastic frontline leadership accolade, I have just completed over 20 annual reviews for the Ultrasound department. Every one of Kim’s team had positive things about her leadership through this tumultuous time. One of these comments wraps up this nomination, “I have been a traveler for ultrasound for many years, and I have been to many places, Kim’s leadership has provided the first ultrasound home and family that I have ever wanted to be a part of.”

Alexis Barina, MD Palliative Care Physician

UTSW Medical Center University Hospitals – Clements

“Dr. Barina has poured her compassion and intimate knowledge of the human experience into her work with the patients, families, and care teams on the COVID ICU at Clements Hospital. She has been a key member of the team, providing guidance and assistance with communication in working with families during desperate situations. Dr. Barina guides provides vital information for follow-up bereavement care to families who have lost a loved one in isolation due to COVID. Her passion for providing care to all who are dealing with this difficult pandemic situation, including frontline staff, has been inspiring and continues to provide an example of what it truly means to be a caregiver.”

Donald Jones, Senior ED Clinical Coordinator, Special Pathogens Lead

UTSW Medical Center University Hospitals – Clements

“Donald has been a consistent trailblazer during this pandemic. He was at the frontline of Ebola, and now COVID. He has been the trainer for PPE, implemented action to create process for COVID, and has worked day/night to be on call for our staff. We would not have been as successful during this token to keep our staff safe and implement a process during this pandemic. I am so proud to work alongside him. He also has performed and sang opera to our staff to boost the morale. He is a vital stakeholder.”

Franklin Lopez, Logistics Manager

UTSW Medical Center University Hospitals- Clements

“Franklin and his team have gone above and beyond to make sure that the staff at UTSW have the equipment and supplies needed to be safe and provide excellent care to the COVID population. Without these amazing members of the healthcare team, many would be left in need of supplies and PPE. These are the HEROS that are protecting the Frontline and allowing for frontline staff to be able to do what is needed at the bedside.”

Hunter Bradshaw, Operating Room Registered Nurse

UTSW Medical Center University Hospitals – Clements

“Hunter Bradshaw had just started her job at UTSW when covid started. She had recently changed from the Emergency Department to the Operating Room and was excited to start her new training. However, covid had other plans for her. When she finished orientation, the hospital began asking for volunteers to go to the ED and Hunter selflessly put her self on the frontline to help out in a department she had previously chosen to leave. She put the community of DFW above her feelings and above getting ahead in her training with the OR. Hunter is a true hero and we’re all so proud to have her serving in the OR once again!”

Javier Rodriguez, Manager Inventory Control

UTSW Medical Center University Hospitals – Clements

“Javier and his team have gone above and beyond to make sure that the staff at UTSW have the equipment and supplies needed to be safe and provide excellent care to the COVID population. Without these amazing members of the healthcare team, many would be left in need of supplies and PPE. These are the HEROS that are protecting the Frontline and allowing for frontline staff to be able to do what is needed at the bedside.”

Martin Marshall, Logistics Director

UTSW Medical Center University Hospitals – Clements

“Martin and his team have gone above and beyond to make sure that the staff at UTSW have the equipment and supplies needed to be safe and provide excellent care to the COVID population. Without these amazing members of the healthcare team, many would be left in need of supplies and PPE. These are the HEROS that are protecting the Frontline and allowing for frontline staff to be able to do what is needed at the bedside.”

Scott Contino, Materials Manager

UTSW Medical Center University Hospitals – Clements

“Scott and his team have gone above and beyond to make sure that the staff at UTSW have the equipment and supplies needed to be safe and provide excellent care to the COVID population. Without these amazing members of the healthcare team, many would be left in need of supplies and PPE. These are the HEROS that are protecting the Frontline and allowing for frontline staff to be able to do what is needed at the bedside.”

Shawnesty Connally, Radiologic Technologist

UTSW Medical Center University Hospitals – Clements

“Shawnesty was one of a few imaging technologists to immediately volunteer to perform chest xrays on COVID-19 suspected or positive cases. She continues to present herself in a positive manner with an upbeat attitude that allows patients to be reassured that they are in great hands. Her smile is contagious which goes a long way when dealing with difficult circumstances. She is a pro at donning and doffing PPE and has been instrumental in establishing workflow processes for the diagnostic imaging department at UTSW Clements Hospital.”