Posts from the ‘Shining Moments’ category

Shining Moments: April 2020, Volume 2

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 bulletin@bwh.harvard.edu 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.”

Shining Moments: April 2020, Volume 1

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 bulletin@bwh.harvard.edu or submit it to our gratitude board.

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


Innovating Under Constraint

Labs across the Brigham are turning their focus to the most pressing challenges that their clinical colleagues are facing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. One example is the Karp lab — a team of bioengineers with expertise in creating advanced biomaterials and devices. The lab is currently working to develop a long-lasting sanitizer and an anti-viral nasal spray that they hope will help their colleagues on the COVID-19 frontlines.

It’s a challenging time to be conducting research, but, as Jeff Karp, PhD, notes, “It’s orders of magnitude more challenging for our colleagues on the clinical front lines, which is why we’re committed to finding ways to help.”

Read more about their efforts in Brigham Clinical & Research News. Find out about other research efforts underway through the Mass General Brigham Center for COVID-19 Innovation.

Sending Love to Health Care Workers

Allison Startzell crafting signs

Allison Startzell, RCIS, a cardiovascular technologist in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, has been crafting heartwarming signs of support for her colleagues and sharing them with her local community of Scituate. The effort is part of Hearts for Health Care Workers, a grassroots campaign to recognize health care workers and first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants are invited to place hearts on their front doors and windows to demonstrate support for those on the front lines of this crisis.

Startzell put her own creative spin on the project by creating the signs from refurbished pallets and picket fencing with the help of her family. After donating the signs to loved ones and neighbors, she says the response has been overwhelming. She is trying to keep up with the demand for more, including setting some aside for her colleagues.

“When many of our Cath Lab nurses got reassigned to the COVID units, it really hit me hard and I was worried for them. A friend gave me a small heart on a piece of wood to hang on my house because she knew I was in health care,” she says. “This project is helping to keep me busy and deal mentally with this very challenging time. I also wanted my boys to experience how to give back and put a smile on people’s faces.”

Thankful for a Special Connection

Woman using computer

Foxborough’s Karen Lombardo works on her laptop with ease.

Tara Bisceglia, senior administrative manager for Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine and Physiatry at Brigham and Women’s/Mass General Health Care Center in Foxborough, shared her and her colleagues’ appreciation for Information Systems (IS) staff and the tremendous support they have provided as technology plays an even bigger role now for the team:

“The Foxboro Orthopaedics team would like to send a special thank you to the IS department for their utmost help and availability during this time of crisis,” Bisceglia said. “They have helped us get our team up and running with swiftness and ease at all hours, day or night. They have spent countless hours working with our many devices and exuded the utmost patience with our technological challenges. We are a unique joint department for BWH and MGH, and we are very grateful to have such a competent, kind and compassionate team of people in our technology departments for both institutions.”

Brigham Staff Celebrated During #ClapBecauseWeCare

Thank you sign and family

On April 3, Massachusetts residents took a moment to applaud and thank first responders and essential workers in their communities as part of #ClapBecauseWeCare, a nationwide movement that invites people around the country to cheer for those on the front lines from a safe distance, such as their window, balcony or front door.

Among those honored was our very own Natasha Cacciatore, BSN, a nurse in the Burn, Trauma, Surgical ICU, who received a small-scale parade from friends, family and neighbors outside her Waltham home. The touching demonstration of love and support moved her to tears.

“It was really nice to see everybody in person and have that human connection again,” she told Boston 25.

‘This Is Why We Cheer’

At the end of virtual Town Meeting on April 7, Brigham Health President Betsy Nabel, MD shared an inspirational video created by ESPN. In the video, ESPN reporter Jeremy Schaap noted that the enthusiasm, appreciation and applause that fans normally give to their favorite sports teams is now being redirected to those who most deserve it: health care professionals and other essential personnel working on the front line of this pandemic.

“No cheers have ever been more deserved or heartfelt,” Schaap says in the video. “Our sports heroes enrich our lives. These heroes are saving them. These are the heroes we need. This is why we cheer.”

We encourage you to take a moment and view this video, and know that people everywhere are cheering for you. Thank you for all that you do.

Staff Receive Heartfelt Messages of Encouragement, Gratitude

Collection of thank you messages

Kevin Giordano, MBA, FACHE, senior vice president of Clinical Services and logistics section chief for Incident Command, and Sherry Yu, MD, Deland Fellow and Dermatology resident, shared a collection of heartfelt messages their teams have received from grateful supporters around the world. Several included packages of medical supplies with their message.

We are so thankful for these uplifting words of encouragement and generous donations from our friends and extended Brigham family.

Love and Appreciation for Our Environmental Services and Food Services Colleagues

Food services and environmental services employees at work

From left: Stephany Barreto, housekeeping aide; Alex Murcia, second cook, and Maria Gonzalez, food service attendant; Maria Centeio, housekeeping aide; and Aylmer Brown, Jessy Perez (background) and Augustus Lawrence, guest service attendants

Mary Aquilino, RN, a nurse in Interventional Radiology, shared her profound appreciation for her hardworking colleagues in Food Services and Environmental Services:

“I just wanted to take a moment to say a very big THANK YOU to everyone in the cafeteria working so hard to feed all of us. These people come in every day, much earlier than most of us, and they make us our breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they all do it with a smile on their faces. With all the thanks going around, they deserve it too, so thank you Sean, Alex, Michael and all the staff in our cafeteria.

“Same goes to the housekeeping and Environmental Services staff, who are putting themselves just as much at risk every day as those of us in the front lines. My thanks go out to them for keeping BWH clean for us and our patients. We are all trying to do our best in this unprecedented time.”

Helping Our New York Brethren

Team loading covid-19 testing booth onto a truck

When NYU Langone Health in Manhattan inquired the evening of April 6 about the coronavirus testing booths that the Brigham had recently developed, staff were quick to respond. The innovative B-PROTECTED COVID-19 booths — developed through a collaboration between Sherry Yu, MD, and the Brigham’s Engineering team — require no use of personal protective equipment and keep physicians safe while they test and swab potentially infected patients. Brigham staff shared engineering details with NYU Langone via web conferencing the next morning.

Kevin Giordano, senior vice president for Clinical Services, offered to send one of the Brigham’s 10 booths to New York to help out. “From what we see and hear,” Giordano wrote to his NYU Langone brethren, “New York City is at a critical time and if we can help in any way, we would want to do that.”

Douglas Carney, senior vice president of Real Estate, Facilities and Operations, worked with Turner Construction in New York and Boston to have one of their trucks deliver the booth to NYU Langone.

It left the Brigham at 4:45 p.m. the next day and arrived at NYU Langone at 9 p.m. that evening — a mere 10 hours after the offer was made.

There has always existed a certain Boston-New York rivalry in the sports and culture worlds. But rivalry or not, we’re stronger together.

A Special Delivery from Foxborough to Boston

Truck carrying PPE

Brian Monahan prepares a delivery of patient care equipment from Foxborough to Boston Hope.

Brian Atkinson, radiology equipment manager in the Department of Radiology, and his colleagues had just finished delivering some medical equipment to Boston Hope on Friday morning when he received a call. There was a lot more equipment that needed to be transported to the center. Come to Foxborough — and quickly.

Earlier that morning, a Brigham team of Ambulatory leaders and staff had identified and gathered the additional patient care devices needed at Boston Hope. Equipment transports had been underway all week, and the center was due to open and begin seeing patients Friday afternoon.

After getting the call, Atkinson and his colleague, Brian Monahan, senior radiology equipment manager, jumped in their truck and headed to Foxborough, where staff were waiting with patient monitors, portable suction machines, defibrillators and other critical equipment. Atkinson and Monahan loaded everything in the truck and hurried back to Boston Hope. The whole effort took about 90 minutes.

Atkinson credited the Foxborough team — including Katy Kehoe, MS, Cynthia Peterson, MBA, Julia Raymond and Jeff Taylor, MPH — for coordinating everything so quickly and smoothly.

“They did the work. We just picked it up and delivered it,” Atkinson said. “It was great to see people all working together to get all of this equipment ready in such a short period of time. It was very fulfilling to see such teamwork.”

Support from Our Friends Across the System

Child in driveway with thank you message in chalk

Sarah Rockett, manager of Benefits Analytics and the Wellbeing Program in Human Resources at Partners, shared these words of support and gratitude for the contributions of Brigham staff:

“My son Liam and I wanted to share our heartfelt thanks to the Brigham Health community for your resilience, bravery and tireless perseversance in the face of the pandemic. Here is a special message displayed in front of our Boston home to express our eternal gratitude to one and all, at every single level of our organization. We salute you!”

A Message of Gratitude from Boston Marathon Survivors


On April 15, One Boston Day, Boston Marathon survivors expressed their gratitude for first responders and hospital workers on the front lines of the pandemic in this video.

Shining Moments: March 2020

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 bulletin@bwh.harvard.edu or submit it to our gratitude board.

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


Gratitude for Community Support

On March 18, the Brigham received a donation of more than a hundred N95 masks from students and teachers at Brookline High School, along with this touching note of appreciation for the efforts of all our staff:

“I am Ann, a senior from Brookline High School. I know that this is a very tough time for all of you. So, we want to help as much as we could. Our school bought 105 N95 masks with donations from our teachers and students. Even though it is not a lot, as a group, we want to let you all know our appreciation. Thank you all for your efforts to prevent us from the virus.”

Kind Words Lift Spirits

Margaret Pelton, MEd, a family liaison in the Bretholtz Center for Patients and Families, expressed how restorative simple expressions of kindness have been for her and her colleagues:

“I work in the Bretholtz Center, which is one of the surgical waiting rooms. This is where patients wait to be called into pre-op and their families wait to speak with the doctor afterwards. Since these trying times began and now that the virus has arrived, my coworkers and I are hearing ‘thank you for being here’ or ‘please stay safe’ from almost everyone we encounter. These simple words go along way with the non-clinical staff who are also in the storm.”

Loved Ones Express Gratitude

Lillian O’Leary, BSN, RN, C-NNIC, a staff nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), shared how care teams and patients’ families are supporting each other and keeping our tiniest patients safe:

“We recently changed our visiting policy in our NICU to allow only ‘band wearers,’ which are two parents or legal guardians of the infant to visit daily. Surprisingly the response from our families was so positive! I was taking care of three infants that day and each parent graciously expressed their gratitude and prayers for us, the staff, who were doing as much as possible to protect their baby. We love our families, but most especially, our precious babies.”

Clinical Team Shares Expertise with Peers at the Brigham and Beyond

A multidisciplinary team of Brigham intensivists, fellows, respiratory therapists and pharmacists has launched — and continually updates — a free online clinical resource, covidprotocols.org, for the benefit of their peers here and around the world.

The team, which is led by C. Lee Cohen, MD, a fellow in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, is documenting the rapidly evolving clinical guidelines for critical care in COVID19 patients. In addition to incorporating recommendations from scientific literature about COVID-19 — which remains limited as this crisis continues to unfold — the team is collaborating with clinicians in China to learn from their experiences.

Learn more about the project in this New Yorker article.

Brigham Begins Rolling Out COVID-19 Testing Booths

Testing for COVID-19 in B-Protected booth

From left: Sherry Yu, MD, and Kevin Giordano, MBA, FACHE, use a prototype booth to demonstrate how a test swab would be conducted. (No swabs were used in the photo to preserve critical supplies.) Photo credit: James Rathmell, MD

Drawing inspiration from health care professionals in South Korea, the Brigham’s Engineering team and clinical leaders teamed up to build freestanding booths for conducting COVID-19 testing.

The thick polycarbonate panels — which have two cutouts with built-in rubber gloves — serve as a physical barrier between clinicians and patients, further protecting frontline providers while also reducing the need for personal protective equipment (PPE).

After each use, the booth is cleaned using disinfectant wipes. The booths will be set up at the Brigham’s tented COVID-19 testing facilities on the main campus.

Nurse’s Compassionate Act ‘Lets Light In’

Mary Kelley, BSN, RN, of Shapiro 9/10, lifted the spirits of a patient by arranging a special “visit” with her loved ones. After coordinating with the patient’s family to stand on the sidewalk by the Shapiro bridge, Kelley brought her patient to the bridge so she could see her family through the windows while they spoke over the phone.

“It was such an easy thing for me to do, but it meant the world to my patient and her family,” Kelley said. “She teared up at the idea and told me that this visit gave her strength to go on the next few days in the hospital. It also put her loved ones at ease to see her through the glass and know she was ok.”

Cameron Nutt, MD, internal medicine resident, took to Twitter to share Kelley’s act of kindness: “A Brigham and Women’s cardiology colleague, Mary Kelley, RN, showed how humanity can triumph in the time of social distancing: by prioritizing dignity. That bridge’s windows let in light — so do acts like this.”

Adding Light During Difficult Times


Nurses, patient care assistants and unit coordinators from Shapiro 7 West and Shapiro 9/10 shared an uplifting video they created to “add some light during difficult times,” says Heather DeMeo, RN, of Shapiro 9/10.

Nurse director Deb Pelletier, MSN, RN, noted that this short video, produced by Danielle Noseworthy, MSN, RN, captures the “Brigham spirit.” She says, “I’m so proud of the dedication, teamwork and compassion of our staff in responding to this unprecedented challenge. It’s a privilege to work with such incredible nurses every day.”

Yes, Heroes Do Work Here

Heroes work here sign

Inpatient physical therapist Katie McKenna spotted this colorful display of community support posted outside our Emergency Department, paying tribute to the heroic commitment of our incredible staff. No matter your role, your tireless contributions are an inspiration to all in these trying times.

‘When Co-Workers Become Family’

Kaleigh McRoberts, BSN, RN, a nurse in one of our COVID-19 Special Pathogens Units (SPUs), shared this touching tribute to her colleagues — one that beautifully reflects the power of teamwork and how we’re stronger together:

“With how unsettling this time in our lives is, I have the absolute best co-workers to always lean on. Big shout out to Tony Molina, Meaghan Pedlow and Lian Atturio for always having the phone ready or a shoulder to lean on when I’ve needed them. I couldn’t do this without them. It’s a great feeling when co-workers become family.”