Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Brigham Office of Strategic Communication has invited staff to share moments of hope and compassion, inspiring examples of teamwork, displays of community support and demonstrations of our values in action. Do you have a story to share? Send it to or submit it to our gratitude board.

We hope you enjoy this second collection of Shining Moments from April 2020.

Video Intercom Project Showcases Picture-Perfect Teamwork

Testing virtual intercom system

Left photo: Laura Carroll (far right), manager of Inpatient Clinical Systems, huddles with deployment team members (from left) Amanda Borchers, Chris Erickson and Eun Ju Chan to test the system on Shapiro 8; Right photo: Erickson tests another device.

Physical distancing remains one of the most important and effective measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19, but it has presented some clinicians with a dilemma: How do you safely deliver compassionate care when face-to-face interactions now pose so many challenges?

One compelling solution for this problem: technology. A new “video intercom” system is enabling inpatients with COVID-19 and their providers to interact via secure video conferencing.

Here’s how it works: In each patient room, a bedside iPad is clamped to a nearby IV pole. Clinicians can initiate a video chat with the patient using an application on an iPad, Partners laptop or personal mobile device. As a result, providers don’t need to enter patient rooms for every routine question or conversation — reducing the risk of infection and conserving personal protective equipment.

Thanks to the innovative work of a multidisciplinary team — led by Cheng Zhang of Virtual Care, Greg Kane of Analytics, Planning, Strategy and Improvement, and Laura Carroll and Steve Penney of Brigham Health Information Systems (IS) — the group has deployed nearly 400 iPads to more than a dozen COVID-19 units across Brigham Health in only a few weeks.

“A big kudos to the team for all their efforts to set up iPads for our patients and health care providers. Laura Carroll, Chris Erickson and Tim Wilder from IS are our new Brigham buddies,” said MaryKate Hegarty, MSN, RN, nurse director of CWN 7 and CWN 8N. “We know that this was not an easy task, and we feel so fortunate to have these resources here at the Brigham. The amazing teamwork and innovation have both been remarkable.”

Hope Blooms Here

Woman receiving flower plant

As a small gesture of gratitude, nonclinical frontline employees were invited to pick up the gift of a potted daffodil at the end of their shift on April 17 in recognition of their valuable contributions during this pandemic. Other members of the hospital community gathered to give a round of applause and thank them for their dedication and courage every day, and especially during these challenging times. This gift was made possible thanks to Boston Cityscapes and WS Development in partnership with the Marathon Daffodil Project.

Spreading Virtual Birthday Cheer

Care team members on Connors 7 found a special way to mark an Arabic-speaking patient’s birthday. Nicholas Chedid, MD, translated the song “Happy Birthday” into Arabic, and, upon learning the lyrics, staff gathered outside of the patient’s room and sang wearing party hats purchased by residents. The patient was able to watch and listen via an iPad inside the room that is part of the Video Intercom Communication System (VICS).

Kind Words from Our Patients

Our patients have affirmed what we have long known: every day, and especially now, you are doing incredible work and deliver safe, high-quality care with the utmost compassion. We hope you enjoy some of the following feedback from patients, shared anonymously via our Press Ganey surveys:

  • “The waiting and exam rooms were spotless. The check-in staff carefully and amiably screened for signs of coronavirus. They did so without alarming anyone.”
  • “My appointment was post-operative and during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The degree of professionalism that was shown to me by the Valets, Security and Medical staff was amazing and compassionate. Thank you to all of you at the BWH Foxboro Facility.”
  • “The telephone visit reduced anxiety for my wife and me in light of the virus pandemic and the fact that I didn’t have to take public transportation to ‘meet’ with Dr. Gonzalez.”
  • “A phone consultation was a new experience but was thorough and all concerns were addressed in this COVID-19 times. The two doctors were patient and thorough with my questions.”
  • “I was there for COVID-19 testing. I felt so safe with how the ER has everything mapped out. All staff were excellent. They made me feel safe and know that they would do their best to test me quickly and safely. The tent set up was excellent and efficient”
  • “My nurse was extremely caring and loving. She took care of me with a touch of compassion! I will always remember her.”

A New Look for Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter in maskSeeking a way to express thanks to clinicians on the front lines of COVID-19, artist Tammy A. Murray turned to a familiar American icon: Rosie the Riveter.

“I have many friends in health care throughout the Northeast, and the stories they tell are harrowing. I chose to update Rosie’s look with a mask and gloves because clinicians are the heroes now,” says Murray, who is based in Ramsey, N.J.

She has created versions for both MGH and BWH. Her partner’s father Ken MacWilliams, a longtime volunteer member of the Partners Human Research Committees, sent the piece to Elizabeth Hohmann, MD, physician director of the committees. “I thought it might resonate with our workforce,” says Hohmann. “It has a great vibe.”

Shining Moment: First Operation Hope Activated for One of Our Own

Deb Buonopane, RN, a beloved Brigham Emergency Department nurse who has been part of our Brigham family for 20 years, was treated for and recovered from COVID-19 at the Brigham. Today, she was celebrated with an Operation Hope discharge in the 45 Francis St. lobby, where she was met by a crowd of colleagues who cheered and clapped as she exited the building. A Quincy Police escort accompanied her home.

A Care Package Wrapped in Kindness

Image of care package contents and dog with treats

Michelle Wapelhorst, BSN, CCRN, nurse-in-charge for the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) on Shapiro 9 East, was touched to receive a special delivery at home last week while recovering from an extended illness. She opened her front door to find a basket of goodies from her CCU colleagues, delivered by Denise Palmer, CCRN, and her son.

“I was surprised with a wonderful collection of goods from Trader Joe’s and beautiful flowers that Denise and her son dropped off at my doorstep. They even remembered treats for my dogs,” Wapelhorst said. “And not only did she come to my home, she has been all over the state today — delivering joy to others’ doorsteps in a time when it truly does make an impact.”

Wapelhorst said the kind, thoughtful and personalized gift lifted her spirits during a difficult time.

“I would just like to thank Denise and my Shapiro 9 East colleagues for putting a smile on my face when I needed it,” she said. “I think about you all every day and can’t wait to be back with my team again.”

It Takes a Team — Today and Every Day

Some of the many team members who contributed to the care of a COVID-19 patient who underwent radiation therapy.

While most of our normal clinical operations have been redirected to focus on delivering critical care to patients with COVID-19, the Brigham continues to serve patients with other acute medical needs, including cancer. Occasionally, these two patient populations overlap.

Staff in our Department of Radiation Oncology experienced this recently when a patient who had been receiving radiation therapy was diagnosed with COVID-19. In preparation for the patient’s next appointment, a large multidisciplinary team — which also included colleagues from Environmental Services and Police and Security — came together to anticipate and address everything needed to ensure both the patient and their care team would be safe and comfortable during treatment.

After the patient’s appointment, Cayla Pezzolesi, BS, RT, a radiation therapist on the team, shared this note:

“This department has some pretty incredible staff, and the departmental goals are endless. We are here to treat cancer and help people fight for their lives in a battle they didn’t ask for. We should all be extremely proud of that. I’m proud and honored to be in this department saving lives.”

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Couple getting married

College sweethearts Michael Senter-Zapata, MD, an Internal Medicine resident at the Brigham, and Tasha Evanoff, MD, a Psychiatry resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, had plans for a large wedding in St. Louis on April 18, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they canceled that celebration to protect the health of their loved ones.

Instead, they held a small ceremony on the steps of Memorial Church at Harvard University, their alma mater, with just the bride and groom and their officiant. The ceremony was followed by a virtual reception over Zoom, where the couple’s parents and wedding party gave their toasts to the newlyweds.

Undeterred by a worldwide pandemic and unexpected spring snowfall in Boston the morning of their wedding, the couple celebrated their happily ever after on April 18, after all.

Their heartwarming story was covered by WBZ-TV.

Recognizing Environmental Services Colleagues

Group of people under Gracias sign

In recognition of the extraordinary contributions of their Environmental Services colleagues in the Emergency Department, ED staff organized a special event to express their gratitude for the team’s tireless and meticulous work to maintain a safe, clean environment.

“We were thinking about how wonderful and supportive everyone has been to the nursing staff and realized there are many more people who deserved recognition,” said Olivia Parsons, RN, an ED nurse who helped organize the event. “Our EVS colleagues are working so hard to keep a clean and sanitary environment, and it often gets overlooked.”

Staff collected donations to treat their Environmental Services colleagues to a celebratory luncheon and gift bags, each of which included snacks, gift cards and more. Staff also created banners and signed posters with messages such as “Real heroes fight germs!” and “¡Gracias empleadas de limpieza!”

‘People, Even the Little Ones, Are Thinking of Us’

Woman holding Not all heroes wear capes sign

Monique Terrio, MSN, RN, MBA, NE-BC, nursing administrator, was recently gifted artwork from the children living in her neighborhood in Malden. The kids, with their parents’ help, sent messages of support to Monique to share with her colleagues:

“I’m impressed by the parents of these children who have been teaching the kids about why they are home from school. I am very appreciative that in these ‘life lessons’ they have included how to say thank you — to me, personally, and to other health care workers at the Brigham.

In some ways it was humbling to receive the notes and to realize that I am indeed fortunate to be able to continue supporting our mission and values. I am honored that so many patients and their families entrust us with their care. I hope that the kids’ messages of ‘No, no, no to coronavirus’ and ‘Not all heroes wear capes’ bring a moment of lightness and understanding that people, even the little ones, are thinking of us.”