We're immensely proud of our courageous team at Baystate Health. They work day in and day out, facing the incredible challenges brought on by COVID-19.
In this series, frontline workers share their experiences in their own words. While these stories only scratch the surface of all our team is doing to support western Massachusetts—and each other—we hope this growing collection will give you a glimpse into their world and their incredible work.
My Frontline Story—Kimberly Mendibe and the "COVID Squad"
"My name is Kimberly Mendibe. I am the unit nurse manager of Baystate Medical Center's South Wing 6. My team and I are currently located on Mass Mutual 6 caring for COVID positive patients (we are the COVID Squad).
I am responsible for leading a team of nurses, patient care technicians, and ancillary staff, in the fight against COVID-19. In these times, I feel proud to wear the nursing uniform and to be a part of this important moment in history. Caring for COVID patients is both scary (as we want to ensure we keep ourselves and our families safe) and rewarding (as we see our patients recover).
The most challenging thing about being on the frontline for me and the team is when we lose a patient. This is a hard process no matter where you work within the organization.
The most rewarding part of being on the frontline is watching our patients’ journey lead them through the front door back home to their loved ones! The recovery process is AMAZING!
People would be surprised to know that keeping laughter in your day with the team makes a tough day a bearable day! This team enjoys a good laugh! Working on the frontlines changed my life by reminding me of two things: 1. Life is a gift 2. So is my team (a true gift). I am so proud to be a South Wing 6 (M6) team member helping to fight COVID-19!"
My Frontline Story—Ken Hahn
“My name is Ken Hahn and I’m an interfaith chaplain at Baystate Medical Center. What I do day to day has changed quite a bit since the pandemic began. Most of my work now is supporting people, both emotionally and spiritually, who are touched by end-of-life situations due to COVID-19. I support staff, patients and those visitors who are allowed to spend time with patients.
In order to conserve personal protective equipment, chaplains don’t go into the rooms of patients with COVID-19. We will instead arrange to talk to a patient by phone and whenever possible, we stand by the door of the room so patients can have visual contact with us.
Bringing a sense of peace, joy or comfort to anyone—a patient, a fellow staff member, a visitor—is really gratifying, especially now when all three of those experiences are a lot harder to come by.
In some cases, the challenge of social distancing is more of an emotional one than logistical. When someone is in great emotional distress and is crying fairly hysterically, for example, sometimes what they need more than anything is a rub on the shoulder or someone looking them directly in the eye and conveying that they are not alone in this most horrific moment.
Working on the front lines has underscored for me the need to practice peacefulness and centeredness, which truly is a practice. Finding what works for you is the key. For me, it’s clearing my mind and focusing on my breathing, taking early morning walks with my dog, praying for the well-being of those around me, and exercise."
My Frontline Story—Tina Cummings
“My name is Kathleen but folks who know me call me Tina. I am a Materials Technician in the Supply Chain department. My team and I supply materials within Baystate Noble Hospital. We aren't on the front line but we're as close as one can be. We get a sense of accomplishment doing our part to keep folks safe. We find the supplies that they need and get it to them as quickly as possible. During this pandemic, everyone is aware some supplies have posed a great challenge to keep in stock.
We've had to have team members scour the hospital to obtain much needed items from departments that use that item less frequently. We've had to safeguard masks and gowns and issue them to the managers who need them most for their safety and the safety of their patients. Everyone must be safe or none of us are. That said, you can never let your guard down and that's more exhausting than anything else. Through all this I have a real appreciation for the team members working the front line for the amount of courage that they show the rest of us, they’re impressive.”
My Frontline Story—John Kadado
"My name is Dr. John Kadado. I am a third year Internal Medicine resident. My co-residents and I care for critically ill COVID-19 patients in the medical intensive care unit. During my time in the medical ICU, days can be long and stressful. The anxiety of dealing with a novel virus alongside the fear of contracting it and passing it on to others can be overwhelming. However, the teamwork and camaraderie truly overcome those feelings.
The most challenging thing about being on the front lines is updating families with unfortunate news via phone call and knowing that some patients are dying without loved ones by their side.
The most rewarding aspect of being on the front-lines is being part of the incredible teamwork between staff members. The kind words of gratitude and thanks I hear from family members during my daily updates puts into perspective everything we do on the front lines.
Working on the front lines has made me appreciate every passing moment of my days. Realizing how vulnerable we are has changed the way I look at problems that come my way. I used to constantly plan ahead and always asked: what next? This experience has taught me to now slow down and appreciate every second of the privilege I have to be alive."
My Frontline Story—Emily Lafleur
"My Name is Emily Lafleur RT(R), I am a registered radiologic technologist, and I am on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. When a symptomatic patient comes into the emergency department, one of the first ways to help diagnose COVID-19 is through a portable chest X-ray. In severe cases, intubation or a central line may be required, which in turn requires X-rays to help ensure the correct placement of the lines or tubing.
For those patients who are battling in the ICUs and COVID units, we are there for them daily so physicians can properly monitor their progression. I am SO PROUD to be a part of the Baystate Health system in this troubling and uncertain time. Working alongside such outstanding professionals every day is truly an honor and I am lucky to be part of such an amazing team both here in radiology and throughout the hospital."
A Heartfelt Thank You
Please join us in extending a heartfelt thank you to our amazing team!