Alumni Respond Across the U.S. To COVID-19 Health Crisis

Photo of alumni student wearing PPE

Meghann Johnson, B.S.N. Class of 2016, RNMeghann Johnson, B.S.N. Class of 2016, RN
Texas Infectious Disease Response Unit

As a member of the state response unit, Johnson worked on a team comprised of nurses, paramedics and physicians from across Texas. For two years, the team trained in high-level personal protective equipment (PPE) to be prepared to deliver care to patients suffering from high-consequence infectious diseases.

In February, they applied those skills when activated for deployment to San Antonio.

The unit helped citizens who were on a cruise ship where a COVID-19 outbreak had occurred. The tourists were quarantined on an Air Force base; anyone who became symptomatic or received a positive test result was sent to the team’s facility, which was the second location in the United States caring for COVID-19 patients on this scale.

Johnson and her fellow team members worked together to establish guidelines for providing medical care but also the logistics of laundry, housekeeping and transportation. They adapted to daily new realities, which included supply availability, patient census, PPE protocols and providing culturally sensitive care.

Johnson, who was quarantined for weeks before arriving at the facility for more isolation, strove to treat the isolated patients as humans first. Small actions like providing them fresh clothes, helping them to receive communion, and, in one man’s case, a few minutes of fresh air in an enclosed patio became key points of care.
Martin Garcia Jr., B.S.N. Class of 2011, RNMartin Garcia Jr., B.S.N. Class of 2011, RN
Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, Weslaco, Texas

As director of compliance-infection prevention, Garcia’s responsibilities related to COVID-19 include providing a safe environment for patients, employees, physicians, contract staff, students and visitors. He helps to identify and reduce the risks of acquiring and transmitting COVID-19 among that population and geographic region.
Tracey Baldemor Von Dollen, B.S.N. Class of 2017, B.A., RNTracey Baldemor Von Dollen, B.S.N. Class of 2017, B.A., RN
The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland

Since mid-March, the Medical Intensive Care Unit was the first to admit COVID-19 patients locally and from the greater Maryland region. A group of MICU nurses, including Von Dollen, are leading efforts to educate other ICU and floor nurses on how to care for Adult Medicine patients in the stepdown, the Medical Progressive Care Unit.
Vincent Enea, B.S.N. Class of 2016, RN, CPN, and Victoria Trevino, B.S.N. Class of 2017, RNVincent Enea, B.S.N. Class of 2016, RN, CPN, and Victoria Trevino, B.S.N. Class of 2017, RN
Methodist Hospital, San Antonio, Texas

Enea, who worked in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and Trevino, who had been in Pediatric Intermediate Care, left their respective units to serve as infection prevention deputies in the COVID-19 unit. Both oversee proper donning and doffing of PPE to keep staff healthy and prevent cross contamination.
Lindsey Morton, M.S.N. Class of 2019, RN, AGACNP-BCLindsey Morton, M.S.N. Class of 2019, RN, AGACNP-BC
William Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak, Royal Oak, Michigan, and Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital, Madison Heights Campus, Madison Heights, Michigan

As a cardiovascular surgery NP in Royal Oak, Morton and the CV surgery team assume responsibility for managing the care of critically ill, intubated COVID-19-positive patients in the converted COVID ICU. In Madison Heights, Morton serves as an ICU NP where the MICU was expanded to a COVID ICU where she works as the intensivist NP managing 30 patients with assigned residents.
Robin L. Sutherland, B.S.N. Class of 2011, RNRobin L. Sutherland, B.S.N. Class of 2011, RN
White Plains Hospital, White Plains, New York

As a critical care RN, Sutherland felt compelled to accept a travel contract to work the COVID-19 ICUs in New York for six weeks. She had been working the ICU at Christus New Braunfels prior to this contract.
Dana Brown, B.S.N. Class of 2016, RNDana Brown, B.S.N. Class of 2016, RN
Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, San Antonio, Texas

Prior to the pandemic, Brown worked on the cardiac telemetry floor with UT Health nursing students as a Dedicated Education Unit teacher. The photo features Emily Valdez (from left), Brown and Gabriela Martinez; both students earned their B.S.N. in May 2020. She had assumed a new position as discharge patient educator, which was created to educate veterans on their disease and medications in order to decrease readmission rates. In March, she moved to the COVID-19 unit to serve veterans there.
Auburn Ann-Mari Arrieta, B.S.N. Class of 2017, RNAuburn Ann-Mari Arrieta, B.S.N. Class of 2017, RN
Gupta & Gupta Pediatrics, Midland, Texas

As lead RN, Arrieta is responsible for creating and implementing parking lot triage and employee screening plans to avoid swabbing patients in closed spaces due to a lack of negative pressure rooms, swabbing patients, preparing persons under investigation (PUI) paperwork, preparing lab specimens to be stored and picked up properly, reporting PUI to local health departments, keeping a log of all suspected patients and PUIs, and entering final results into the electronic health record and notifying local health department/providers/patients of results and continuing treatment plans after discussing with providers.
Fabiola M. Mendoza, B.S.N. Class of 2019, RNFabiola M. Mendoza, B.S.N. Class of 2019, RN
Methodist Hospital Texsan, San Antonio, Texas

As a designated COVID-19 RN, Mendoza’s responsibilities include assessing, implementing and monitoring COVID-19 patients’ care plans and evaluating patients’ response to treatment. She also is providing holistic care to her patients and their families, who all struggled because no visitors were allowed; she tries to be creative to include family members as much as possible while providing excellent clinical care.
Alyssa D. Garcia, B.S.N. Class of 2018, CCRNAlyssa D. Garcia, B.S.N. Class of 2018, CCRN
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

As a highly specialized bedside nurse in the Adult/Pediatric CV Surgery and Transplant ICU with low census when elective cases ceased, Garcia is supporting MICU colleagues in the COVID-19 unit. With fellow ICU nurses, she helps manage and staff the unit.
Miguel Dutson, B.S.N. Class of 2019, RNMiguel Dutson, B.S.N. Class of 2019, RN
UMass Memorial Health Care, Worcester, Massachusetts

As an RN resident, Dutson is currently working as part of a “Turn & Prone Team” where six new graduate RNs prone and supine patients in order to improve respiratory function and maximize ventilation and perfusion. The team was created to utilize the new graduate RNs while the residency/preceptorship is postponed due to the influx of COVID-19 patients.
Yolanda Farias-Ruiz, D.N.P. Class of 2016, RN, NE-BCYolanda Farias-Ruiz, D.N.P. Class of 2016, RN, NE-BC
Baylor CHI St. Luke’s Hospital, Houston, Texas

As director of patient care for the 23 Terrace and Medical Oncology Nursing Units, Dr. Farias-Ruiz said she is honored and humbled by the nurses on her team. As COVID-19 forced the closing of some nursing units, the 23 Terrace nurse heroes are partnering with ICU nurses to care for COVID-19 and patients under investigation (PUI). Her team serves as nurse validators to ensure that nurses entering COVID and PUI rooms are correctly donning and doffing PPE.

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In the 2020 issue of Tribute

Tribute is the official magazine for the alumni and friends of the School of Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Read and share inspiring stories highlighting our alumni, faculty and students who are revolutionizing education, research, patient care and critical services in the communities they serve.

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