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Hunterdon News

Hunterdon Healthcare Faces Behind The Front Line

July 21, 2020

Inspired by the Inside Out Project, “Faces Behind the Front Line” highlights 10 individuals from many different areas of Hunterdon Healthcare who have been working tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and who were willing to tell their story and be a face of Hunterdon Healthcare. Through consultation and feedback from our Hunterdon Healthcare Hero Nomination form, we identified 10 individuals who embody our core values of integrity, caring, communication, collaboration, excellence, and accountability. Their portrait and a first-person perspective regarding what life was like working through a pandemic will be featured in a social media campaign and displayed in the lobby of Hunterdon Medical Center.

Dave Norton, a local freelance photographer specializing in portraiture and architectural photography, graciously donated his time and talent by photographing our staff. His work has been published in The Star-Ledger, the Bucks County Herald, and on the cover of River Towns Magazine. His most recent project, Flemington From a Distance, raised over $4,000 for the Hunterdon Healthcare Foundation’s COVID-19 Support Fund. He lives in Flemington with his wife Ally, daughter Rosie, three cats, and two labs.

His portrait work can be found at meetthenortons.com [meetthenortons.com]

 

Thank you to Dave Norton and our 10 participants who were willing to share their experiences with us and for all their hard work over the past several months and for everything they continue to do for Hunterdon Healthcare and our community every day.

We are pleased to present “Faces Behind the Front Line”:

Rachel Brauner, DO, FAAP
Hunterdon Pediatric Associates

 

As a Pediatrician, I am proud to help keep children safe and healthy. Watching my patients grow from newborns to young adults and knowing the role I played in their lives is the best part of my job. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was inspiring to see how the community and hospital came together to support the county, and I was honored to be a part of the effort. As Hippocrates said, ‘Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity’.” 

 

Kelsey Brown
Patient Financial Services Analyst,
Central Billing Office

 

“During this pandemic, I’ve been focusing on giving my all in not only my work life but in my personal life as well. My Mom, who passed away when I was 18, taught me to show kindness and compassion to everyone. In light of that, when I am not at work I have been cutting and donating Ear Savers with my Cricut machine. To date, I have donated over 300 Ear Savers to Nurses/EMS Workers and Medical Professionals all over the country. I have also shared the directions/SVG Files with 60+ Cricut Crafters across the country and was featured in Reader’s Digest as a contributor to 20 Acts of Kindness.”

Erick Cooper, RRT
Registered Respiratory Therapist, Respiratory Care Services

 

“As a patient advocate, I truly enjoy helping people. Anyone who knows me knows my smile – one I carry with me whether I’m helping respiratory patients at Hunterdon Medical Center, visiting my wife at work (who works a few floors up in the same hospital), hanging out with my ER nurse daughter, or video chatting with my son and grandson across the country. Most recently I wore my signature smile proudly when a COVID-19 patient asked for me to personally escort him out of the building after being discharged, a moment which I’ll carry with me for a long, long time.”

Marie Davis
Universal Environmental Services Worker, Environmental Services Dept. (ICU)

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, my job was to clean and disinfect the rooms in the ICU sometimes working 6 days a week. Normally, I would introduce myself when entering a patient’s room but sadly many of these patients were on ventilators. Just like the medical staff I had to don full PPE gear to enter each room. I did the best I could cleaning around all the equipment, hoses, and wires. I was especially nervous during this time since my husband has heart problems but the nurses always helped me to make sure I was safe and my director also held huddles every morning to go over always evolving safety protocols. The hardest part was missing my two grandchildren in New York who we haven’t seen since January other than Facetime calls. Thankfully I did get to see my daughter who is a nurse practitioner here in the hospital.”

Chris Hunt
Director of Safety & Security, Coordinator, Disaster Preparedness

 

During Hunterdon Healthcare’s Response to COVID-19, I acted as Incident Command organizing the response efforts for the healthcare system in conjunction with Lisa Rasimowicz and the senior Administration.  I assisted in the development of policies and strategies to ensure the safety of our staff and patients throughout the pandemic.  As part of my responsibilities I also coordinated with numerous local, state, and federal agencies to acquire critical supplies and personal protective equipment that was used to ensure that our staff had all of the equipment and supplies they needed throughout the past four months. This pandemic challenged all of us to think differently and act quickly.  I am proud of our response and to work for Hunterdon Healthcare.”

Cynthia Jones-Gaffney
Clinical Coordinator,
Emergency Department

 

“As a front line worker, who is married to another front line worker, this pandemic spring has been a blur. Between trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy at home for our 13-year-old daughter, and trying to arrange our schedules so that someone would always be home, we have been working nonstop. As an Emergency Room nurse, I work in a Clinical Coordinator Role or Charge Nurse. It is my responsibility to maintain seamless care from the front door to the admitting unit, or discharge. On a normal day, this is a challenge, but during the COVID-19 crisis, it was more than a challenge. The staff was fearful, the patients and their family members were fearful, I was fearful. I tried to maintain composure for my staff throughout the crisis. Caring for others is what I do. I chose to work at Hunterdon Medical Center more than 11 years ago when I moved to Hunterdon County. I love caring for the people that live within my community and am blessed to be able to do so. Every day during this COVID-19 crisis, I have focused on silver linings and I found many. There is so much good to come out of times of stress and uncertainty, and this was no exception. I feel blessed to be a nurse, I feel that I didn’t choose this career path, but that it chose me.”

Emily Malzone, MSN, RN-BC
Clinical Coordinator, 5 West/CCU

 

“I have worked at Hunterdon Medical Center for 8 years as an intern during school and then a nurse on the med-surg, cardiac, and CCU units. During the COVID-19 pandemic, HMC came up with a plan to pair the critical care nurses with a tier 2 nurse, someone who had the skills to help manage these patients but was not officially critical care trained. It worked really well because these nurses stepped up during the pandemic and were a great help to us. In March, our cardiac unit was quickly converted to a COVID-19 unit to accommodate the influx of patients we were anticipating. The first night a COVID patient was admitted, the nursing supervisor came to me because we had to transfer all our patients to a different unit. I worked with her to group them together to ensure the best patient care and safety. This was the plan that the unit ended up using throughout the pandemic to the best of its abilities. One night, my team and I were presented with multiple obstacles, both patient-related and staffing. I came up with solutions to each problem and presented it to my coworkers to ensure everyone agreed. Although that night was the most difficult shift I ever worked, the teamwork was impeccable making the shift a little bit better.”

Lisa Rasimowicz, MSN, RN, CIC
Director of Infection Prevention
and Patient Safety Officer

 

“I joined the Infection Prevention Department at Hunterdon Medical Center in 2009, and even though our plans have always included preparing for a pandemic, I honestly hoped that I would never need to implement any of them. That all changed earlier this year. During this time I spent a lot of time away from my house and away from my husband and two sons… but even the longest days were worth it knowing that I was doing all I could to help protect our patients, staff, and community.  Our team is amazing and all of our successes wouldn’t be possible without each and every one of them. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the Hunterdon Healthcare family.”

Chris Small
Chaplain, Hunterdon Medical Center

 

“Life for myself and my family has been quite a ride over the past several months. My wife, Brigid, and I welcomed our third child into the world at the end of January. Soon afterward, the coronavirus outbreak took hold of our area. As a chaplain at Hunterdon Medical Center, I wanted to make sure our patients and families stayed connected even in the midst of isolation and illness. I, along with a team of others started doing virtual visits where we wore our N-95 masks and entered the rooms of our patients and called families via facetime. I often listened as families spoke to their sick loved ones, and then we would say prayers of comfort together. Additionally, during this time I began leading virtual meditation and prayer each day for anyone in our community to participate in a hope of helping us address all of our anxiety we are experiencing together during this uncertain time.”

 

Amna Yaqub, MD
Hunterdon Infectious Disease Specialists

 

Although I have been working as a physician for over 15 years, this has been one of the most dynamic times that I have ever been part of because literally every day we learn something new, and we have to unlearn the things that were set in stone a week ago because of the ever-evolving information and insights into this disease. During this battle with the pandemic, there have been some heart-rending moments. The hardest part is seeing patients suffer in isolation and not be surrounded by their loved ones. And while COVID-19 is forcing us to stay apart, the virus brought the hospital workforce together. We are working towards a common goal so there’s just been a great degree of camaraderie and teamwork that has gone into this!! I am proud to be part of the Hunterdon team as we find our ways forward through uncertainty, pain, and fear with intelligence, resilience, and perseverance.”

 

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