Badger Nurses on the Front Lines of COVID-19

When UW Health called on retired nurses to help during the coronavirus pandemic, Beth Sommerfeldt ’81 was ready and willing to answer. Sommerfeldt and other retired nurses were asked to answer the phones of the COVID-19 hotline. She was featured in the “Frontline Heroes: National Nurses Week” series from NBC 15 WMTV.

Marcela Hanson
Marcela Hanson ’20

When the pandemic hit the United States, in-person clinical site visits were cancelled, leaving many graduating seniors with a desire to help the front lines in some way. Marcela Hanson ’20, then a nursing assistant at University Hospital, discovered her colleagues were struggling to find childcare. She decided to organize a list of fellow nursing students who were still in Madison, despite moving to a distance learning format, and willing to provide those services. Her efforts were featured on Wisconsin Public Radio, and she was selected as the Nurse of the Week by DailyNurse®.

Recent graduate Geoffrey Watters DNP’20 was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, “Wisconsin Medical Students are Graduating onto the Front Lines of Coronavirus.” In his interview, Watters highlighted how health care is not immune to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that others in his specialty of psychiatric nursing were struggling to find secure employment. “There’s a lot of uncertainty,” Watters said. “It seems counter-intuitive that health care workers would be losing their jobs in the middle of a pandemic, but it’s happening.”

J.J. Rosing, nursing student
J.J. Rosin

Current senior J.J. Rosin was recruited by the State of Illinois to provide support for those affected by COVID-19. His nine week contract started at McCormick Place in Downtown Chicago where the 3,000-bed facility was used to provide 24/7 care for those with mild symptoms of COVID-19 and for those finishing their treatment regimen. During this time, he was primarily a paramedic on the CODE/Airway team. Once this deployment was finished, he moved to Ludeman Development Center, a state-run disability facility, where about 80 percent of the residents had COVID-19. Nurses, doctors, and paramedics provided around the clock care to these individuals to ensure a rapid recovery. They also worked closely with the facility’s staff to implement PPE standards and provide infection control.

Amber Statz, nurse in PPE
Amber Statz ’16

The Wisconsin Alumni Association’s “What Badgers Do” series featured Amber Statz ’16, who currently works on a neuro ICU unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Statz said, “Working on a neuro ICU unit, we transitioned to a COVID ICU unit. Then we’ve had new people working next to us. And so, it’s just been a lot of new faces and working together as a team—even though we might not have met each other before. It’s just been a lot of teamwork and cooperation, which is pretty neat to see.”