As COVID-19 has many people cooped up at home, I realized that they’d turn to social media a lot more to help pass the time. I recognized that Facebook could be a great platform to spotlight my colleagues and inform the public on what actually is happening inside our hospital. Additionally, I want people to see the faces — often donning masks, shields and other PPE — that are going to work every day on their behalf to keep the community safe. This goes for not just doctors and nurses, but security guards, social workers, EVS staff, food services staff and countless others who keep the hospital up and running.

I also wanted to show that these are regular people, often with families, small children and the same fears that everyone else has. I hope that these republished posts from my personal Facebook account can boost morale and give all frontline workers the proper recognition they deserve for working so hard during these times. I am grateful for the positive support and feedback that I’ve already received through Facebook, and I am hoping that this blog entry can reach and touch even more lives outside of my initial social media circle.

Meet Carlton

Carlton is a security officer at Froedtert Hospital. I have been at Froedtert for more than a decade, and Carlton has never missed an opportunity to greet me with a pleasant “What’s up Doc?” or “Have a great day Doc!” He is a roaming presence in our bustling halls and keeps an eye out for everyone. A 31-year veteran of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, he has served as a security officer at Froedtert Hospital for the last 14 years. He is a long-time Milwaukee resident, where he lives with his wife and raised his two (now adult) children. While his family is certainly proud of his accomplishments, they have been encouraging him to scale back and consider retirement. Carlton tells me he’s not sure he’s ready yet. He really enjoys his work.

When I asked him how COVID is affecting him, he said that he is a little scared but knows his limitations. He has comfort in his trust of God and in His plan. It makes him happy to know he gets to help keep people safe during this time.

Meet Christina

I will preface this by saying that, in my opinion, the nurses are the heartbeat of the hospital, specifically in the times of COVID-19. There is almost no one who spends as much time at the bedside of a patient than the nurses. I applaud each and every one of them.

Christina, a mother of a teenager and a young adult, has been an RN for 15 years, 12 of them being on 9NT, where she currently serves as a charge nurse on Froedtert's first all-COVID unit. While she shares the same fears and exposure risk as everyone else on her unit, she is really glad to be part of the solution. She says she is learning a lot, not only about the disease and patient management, but about her 9NT team as a whole, from clinical staff to housekeeping. She is proud of how well everyone is working together:

"Not only do we keep each other feeling safe and supported, but we have also felt that same love from other medicine units as well as the community. I feel very fortunate to be part of such a supportive team working together on the front line of this pandemic. These patients need our care and compassion, as we are the only support they have at this very trying and fragile time in their lives. Today, we were able to all gather outside the room of a patient who unfortunately passed away, and we said a blessing over his life as there was no family or chaplin present. It was very heart-breaking but heart-warming at the same time.”

Meet Chip

Anyone who has worked at Froedtert Hospital in the past few decades knows Chip. At least, they know where to find him on Thursdays. He cooks for the hospital and is best known for his Thai-inspired meals. Made-from-scratch egg rolls, noodle dishes and stir fry are just a few of his fresh dishes. One of my first memories with Chip was from my residency training days. We had a daily educational meeting over lunch called “Noon Conference.” One Thursday, all the medicine residents received a page as a “friendly reminder” to arrive at 12:00 p.m SHARP! Chip was serving his lunch that day, so we had to get in line EARLY because tardiness would NOT BE TOLERATED.

Originally from Thailand, Chip came to the U.S. many decades ago and has been settled in the Milwaukee area for over 24 years. He has been part of the Froedtert Food Services team for nearly 18 of those years! As a child, he loved looking at pictures and hearing stories about America. He came to this country to pursue his American dream and believes that he is doing just that. When asked about his feelings in the era of COVID-19, he said that in a time when people can hurt and upset others so easily, he is happy he can provide something that causes happiness.

Food is sustenance, but it is also comfort and love. Thank you all of those in the Food Services areas that come to work every day and feed us in so many ways.

Meet Meghan and Felicia

Social workers and case managers keep the hospital flowing. They are often the gatekeepers to the next phase of care. They help patients and families with tough situations, have real conversations and support the providers in a multitude of ways. Now think of how tough this is in the era of COVID-19, when they are trying to work over the phone and patients can’t have family at their bedsides. We are grateful for all they do!

“I’m Meghan, and I’ve been a medical social worker at Froedtert Hospital for two and a half years. I moved to Milwaukee four years ago with my now husband and fell in love with the city. I am fortunate to have an amazing support system of family and friends (and my two fur babies, Luke and Leia) keeping me sane through all this.

Sometimes, it all feels like a movie. Then, I walk into work wearing a mask and reality sets in. The medicine floor where I typically work is now a designated COVID-positive unit. I am lucky to be surrounded by amazing colleagues who continue to provide exceptional care to all of our patients. I am so proud to be part of the team on 8NT. It’s easy to focus on all the negativity in the news, but I love all the stories demonstrating the generosity and kindness of our community. The best part of my day is seeing patients recover enough to leave. That is what keeps us all going! So stay safe, wash your hands and keep showing kindness!”

“I’m Felicia. I have been a part of the Froedtert family for just over six months. This is my first time working in health care. When I accepted this position, I did not anticipate being greeted by a global pandemic, especially not in my own backyard. Initially, I was weary of the unknown, as I am stationed on a designated COVID-19 floor. Now, I am filled with gratitude. I am thankful for my health, my wonderful 8NT colleagues, my ability to roll with the punches, and being able to witness healing firsthand. Yes, we assist patients daily, but this is different. It is a pure representation of light peeking through darkness.

If my social work background has taught me anything, it is the resiliency of the human spirit. Hope can be frail, but it is hard to break.

Emotions are high, and we are making unprecedented sacrifices. We are all battling huge learning curves. Just keep in mind: We can do this, we are doing this and we will win. To anyone hurting in any capacity at this time, my heart is with you.

Please take care of yourselves holistically. Pause when you need to. Cry if you need to. Nothing about this season of life is done in vain. We are making a difference.”

Kavita Naik, MD
About the Author

Kavita Naik, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine hospitalist and the clinical director of patient flow for the section of hospitalist medicine at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network. She is a career academic hospitalist, working directly with students and residents as an assistant professor since 2011.

Mitzi Doolen

All of these staff members are heroes everyday, and they are awesome to work with. I work with awesome people.

Laurie Winkels

I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for insight in these fantastic people. When I graduated from Milwaukee County Nursing Froedtert was just built. It has come a long way with great people within their walls. Thank you!

Dale Kretschmer

Thanks for sharing this information with persons like myself who have some idea and appreciation for the sacrifices the Froedtert staff makes, but don't know many details. I have been coming to Froedtert four times a year for over nine years. In times like this one can thank God for the dedication, compassion, and professionalism of the medical community. I'm proud to add that my oldest granddaughter is entering college in fall to pursue a career in nursing.