Dr. Amy Kircher ’97 – Co-director, Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative, University of Minnesota

I became part of the response team for the University of Minnesota's research office, which has included both hibernating research (e.g., labs) and ramping up research to deliver solutions for the COVID-19 response (e.g., ventilators, alternate materials for PPE). I have been working to start research that fills an operational need to support real-time decision-making (e.g., creation of novel face shields, risk communication).

Mark Ruff ’87

Coordinator, City of Minneapolis

"COVID-19 has changed everything in Minneapolis. Our public health department is taking on a huge role in education about the disease, particularly around our vulnerable populations and our immigrant communities. We are supporting efforts for increasing the number of beds in temporary hospitals. Our real focus needs to be on providing the best possible service, especially for those that are most vulnerable in our community such as homeless residents and elders. Cities are not temporary; they are forever. Our mayor and council leaders do a great job inspiring confidence in our capacity to tackle any problem."

Dr. Michelle Isley ’97

Obstetrics and Gynecology Physician, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

"Much of my job has been the same because women still have reproductive health care needs, even during this COVID pandemic. Babies are still coming into this world and women continue to need safe, hospital-based obstetric care. As medical director of our Labor and Delivery unit, I’m working with our hospital leaders and nursing leaders to develop safe protocols to take care of women who present to Labor and Delivery who are COVID-19 positive or persons under investigation for COVID-19. We have to work with our staff to make sure we have appropriate protocols in place so that we can continue to provide excellent patient care but also protect our staff appropriately. I have also seen firsthand the strength and dedication of the people I work with to continue the care of our patients."

Keaton Erickson ’20, Patient Care Tech., Sanford Health

I have been transferred to work as a patient care technician on Sanford's Special Care Unit, which is responsible for caring for those patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. In this pandemic, it is the responsibility of healthcare workers to bear the weight of those requiring medical attention. I’m proud to be doing my part in this time of crisis.

Kristine Olson ’90

VP of Physician and Professional Services, Essentia Health

"After COVID-19, my days are filled with surge planning for our facilities and how we are staffing with physicians and APRN/PAs. I also have responsibility for the set-up of all virtual and telehealth for the same group. Overnight, we became a work-from-home organization. We deployed new technology, workflows, practices, and innovation. This process has showed us how quickly we can respond. It has changed the way we interact as teams, how we interact as an organization, and it absolutely has impacted the way we deliver healthcare to those in need."

Triebold with his wife, Katie, a preparedness consultant at MDH.

Isaac Triebold ’03

Senior Epidemiologist, Minnesota Department of Health

"I work in the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division covering 16 counties in West Central Minnesota. Our division is the lead organization responding to this emergency in Minnesota. We actively monitor cases and their contacts, make recommendations on infection prevention, and work with our partners across MDH and in local public health to make sure people in quarantine have their essential needs met. Everything is different now. It’s all hands on deck due to COVID-19. This is a once in a generation public health emergency that will change the way we live in this country for a long time."

Ben Koppelman ’95

CEO, CHI St. Joseph’s Health Services

"Right now, 90% of my days are dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic. Communication has become a lot more structured and purposeful, including daily COVID-19 incident briefing with all of our leaders. We have put a lot of intentional focus on making sure we are following CDC and state guidelines to protect the safety of everyone. We are also working on developing plans to be able to double or even triple our normal inpatient capacity. Space planning for a potential surge has not been as difficult as trying to figure out how we would staff for this. We have been working on cross-training many nurses, physicians, and other providers to be in a better position to meet the demand. Health care organizations throughout the area and state have set aside differences or competition to work together to help each other to serve the greater good, and the local community has come together to support each other. I am hopeful that this same spirit of working together for the common good will exist going forward."

Danielle Olson ’10 – Executive Director of Ecumen, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Our team at Ecumen has spent the last several weeks building our foundation for COVID-19.  We are planning for every scenario we can think of, from where it could present to how we will manage the delivery of care to how we will manage our PPE supply to how we will utilize all members of our team. Our work will forever be changed by COVID-19 in ways we probably do not even know yet. I also believe that we will have a deeper appreciation and value for human connection.

Michelle Daggett '94

President of Lakeshirts, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

"We are utilizing our embroidery machines at Lakeshirts for the production of thousands of masks for hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes locally and across the state, so we still have a team in producing these much-needed medical supplies during this time. Community is one of our values and this virus hasn’t changed that."

Jordan Lothert '20

Administrative Intern, CentraCare in St. Cloud

"We went into full pandemic mode in early March, shortly after I started my internship. I had the opportunity to observe and assist the planning team as it created the response plan, and I played an integral part in helping create the response plan as it pertained to COVID-19 hospitalizations."

Read Jordan's Story

Dr. Mark Sannes ’94

Infectious Disease Physician, Park Nicollet Clinic/Methodist Hospital

"My usual administrative role with oversight of Medical Specialties across HealthPartners has shifted to almost exclusively working on COVID-19. I have been helping coordinate our response related to testing, hospital and clinic preparedness, and internal/external communication regarding the disease. This has really been a life-changing experience, not only professionally but personally as well.  I am proud to work in an organization like HealthPartners with such a talented team of healthcare leaders, physicians, nurses, and frontline workers, who have rallied together during this public health crisis, and I’m equally proud to live in a state like Minnesota where the community response and resilience under pressure has been equally impressive."

Published April 2020