UW Medicine caregivers and staff reflect on their experience as the world and their work changed overnight

Caring for our communities during the pandemic couldn’t happen without the sacrifice of thousands of healthcare workers. They faced great risk to test vulnerable community members, care for sick patients, keep hospitals running, clean patient rooms and prepare meals. Click on the photos to learn more about our healthcare workers and their experiences during the pandemic.

You do what needs to be done each day for the good of all patients, staff and families. It is everyday, selfless dedication to the work at hand, being constantly in the moment. We are constantly educating the risks, precautions and adjustments to policies that keep everyone safe, including ourselves. We have to care about the community.
– Enedina Dumas, Strategic Outreach/Screening Program Manager,
UW Medical Center – Montlake
Being in one of the early epicenters of the pandemic while training for a career in infectious diseases was humbling, inspiring and tragic all at once. I was fortunate to be a part of the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) team at Harborview Medical Center and was taken on the steepest learning curve I could imagine.
– Nandita Mani, MD, Infectious Diseases Physician, Harborview Medical Center; Hospitalist, UW Medical Center – Northwest
The early days of the pandemic were difficult. Our department has since developed solid policies and protocols that have made dealing with COVID-19 manageable. However, if I have one of those really tough days, I look forward to coming home to my partner and my dogs. My family and my partner have been very supportive.
– Alicia Rogers, Lead Imaging Technologist, Harborview Medical Center
The selfless team approach that it takes to care for the critically ill with covid-19 touched me. We can’t do this alone. The doctors relied on the amazing work of the nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists and environmental services workers to do our jobs.
– Vikram A. Padmanabhan, MD, Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician, UW Medical Center – Northwest
Yo tengo fe que muy pronto vamos a tener una vacuna y todos los días pido a Dios que le de mucha sabiduría a las personas que están trabajando para que pronto tengamos la vacuna.
I have faith that we will have a vaccine very soon and every day I ask God to give a lot of wisdom to the people who are working to quickly get us the vaccine.
– Luisa Valera, Custodian, UW Medical Center – Montlake
At times, I feel emotionally drained. I keep going by reminding myself how important this work is to the community.
– Christi Wakefield, Medical Assistant, Harborview Medical Center
As one of the few native Spanish-speaking nurses on my unit, in addition to my paternal grandfather recently passing away from COVID-19, this pandemic has heightened my passion in advocating and working towards health equity. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected historically marginalized communities... This experience has reinforced my goal to use my nursing career to partner with communities that have not had equitable access to healthcare and advocate for changes in our healthcare system to improve outcomes for all.
– Liliana Palacios, RN, Harborview Medical Center
I am impressed with everyone that works on this unit. We have had to learn new skills, be flexible as protocols keep changing and everyone continues to do their jobs while practicing patience, showing grace and having a sense of humor during some of the especially difficult days. I’m proud to be a part of this team.
– Gwen Rushing, Registered Nurse, COVID Unit, Harborview Medical Center
After working here for 16 years, this is the first time that I’ve ever had fear or anxiety about going to work.
– Deana Orth, Respiratory Care Lead, Harborview Medical Center
Before, my thoughts were, I’m a lead food service worker. After COVID-19, my new thinking is, I’m a healthcare provider. It changed my perspective from helping to being a leader!
– Marvin Williams, Lead Food Service, UW Medical Center – Montlake
We will always be here to support you, no matter the circumstances. All we ask is that when we desperately need it, you support us as well. Whatever happens, we will have your back; it is incredibly uplifting and empowering to know that you have ours as well.
– Liam Fay, Physician Assistant, Harborview Medical Center