Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Josh West

Josh West entered emergency medicine because of his mother-in-law’s passion for her role as an RN in Florida. Josh says, “She talked me into getting my EMT license, and I’ve loved the job ever since! I love the thrills of the job, but I also enjoy making a difference in people’s lives, even if it’s just being someone who will listen to them.”

When Josh chose to enter the medical field, he went all in. Prior to moving back to Michigan, Josh worked in Florida for eleven years as a Firefighter/Paramedic for Polk County Fire Rescue, as an EMT with Transcare Ambulance Service in Tampa, and as a Patient Care Technician in Spring Hill.

Today, Josh West works at Metro Health Hospital in Michigan as an RN in the emergency department. While this is his full-time job, he also works as a paid-on-call Firefighter/EMT for Zeeland Township Fire Rescue.
Josh says that “it’s strange with the Covid-19 response now. After all of the media coverage initially, it was somewhat frightening. Locally, we saw all of the coverage from Detroit and anticipated to be hit hard like they were. Fortunately, we have not seen those kinds of numbers here. Hopefully, we won’t. We have, however, been preparing for the worst and hoping for the best! And sending up lots of prayers!”

We are thankful that we have healthcare workers and first responders, like Josh, who are prepared for anything.

The message that Josh would pass along is to “please take this seriously, especially as the stay-at-home orders are relinquished. There is a very likely chance that a second wave of cases will come through so please continue to practice social distancing.”

~A Diverse Global Article written by Catie Cordero

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Samuel Ortega

For the last three years, Samuel Ortega has worked as a first responder for the Norton Shores Fire Department. A passion for this field arose at a young age, watching his father serve the community in Los Angeles City Fire Department in California. Sam loved visiting the station and climbing all over the trucks.

Sadly, his father passed away from ALS, which was triggered by firefighting work. The loss was devastating and for years Sam pushed away the calling to join Fire Service, but God had other plans.

Only God would know that Sam’s service would be needed at such a time as this. Even though the call volume has lowered, the stress and mental load is much heavier. Protocols are changing daily, sometimes hourly. As a first responder, being ready and adaptable is key. Even before Covid-19, the department had a certain amount of P.P.E. (Personal Protective Equipment) to wear, and now, the P.P.E. required is greater—regardless if a patient is assumed positive or negative for coronavirus.

With every case they face, our responders must recognize and face the danger. Unfortunately with Covid-19, the danger doesn’t end at the conclusion of their shift. As they return home, they dump their clothes in the washing machine and jump in the shower, hoping to protect their own families. The danger is real, but they face it for us.

Each day, Sam and his team strive to be at their best in order to keep the community safe. Sam says that it is a hard balance between doing his job safely and wanting to jump right in and help. “For the community, we keep our heads down and keep moving forward. This too shall pass,” says Sam. “While I think our normal will definitely be a “new normal” this will pass.”

We are grateful for Samuel and all first responders. Being on the frontlines is challenging physically, emotionally, and mentally. Please join us in praying for these great men and women. Please remember Sam and his family in your prayers.

And remember these last words from Samuel Ortega…“Think for yourself, don’t believe everything and anything the media tells you. Use precaution but don’t live and operate out of fear. And above all, keep your faith.”

~A Diverse Global Article, Written by Catie Cordero

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Nicole Sparks

 

“Want to know who’s not practicing social distancing? These babies! Because they just keep coming,” says Nicole Sparks, a physician of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Atlanta, Georgia. “And I fully expect to have an influx of babies approximately 9-10 months from now. (Laugh out loud)!”

Nicole has been an OB GYN for almost five years, but her interest in the medical field started as a young girl. Growing up, she marveled at how her family pediatrician would perform back to back visits for her four siblings and herself and never lose patience. Her doctor cared for them with such kindness that it imprinted on Nicole’s heart. She knew she wanted to follow in the same career path.

Since becoming a physician, never did Nicole dream that she would find herself working during a pandemic. She says, “This is unchartered territory. The biggest challenge I am facing as a physician at this time is trying to keep my patients calm in the midst of grave uncertainty. The field of OB GYN is unique in that we are taking care of two patients at any time—both the mother and her baby. Mothers are extremely worried at this time. They are afraid of what the future holds for their pregnancy and their delivery. They are looking for us to have all the answers, and unfortunately we are navigating this new territory too, just like they are.”

In order to promote peace during this time of uncertainty, Nicole’s first priority has been to remain calm and educate herself so that she can strengthen and encourage her patients. Nicole says, “Pregnancy is supposed to be a beautiful time, and it has been plagued by a pandemic. So as a physician, I feel it is my duty to encourage my patients and provide them with information that will keep them safe. We took an oath when we became physicians to do no harm. That is what I intend to do, especially during a time like this.”

The outlook can be bleak sometimes, but there is something that will always light up the darkness—the wonderful gift of life when a child is born. They are the picture of innocence. They are our hope for tomorrow. Thank you to Nicole and all OB GYN physicians for assisting mothers and their beautiful babies, in all seasons. You are our frontline heroes. We are grateful to you.

In closing, let us remember and dwell on the good in this world. Let us shift our focus to the positive things. Nicole said it perfectly in a recent Instagram post. “I hope if nothing else that this time away from work and busyness helps people realize what really matters most. I hope this time helps us to focus on our loved ones, on really connecting with each other, and connecting with ourselves. Take the news in doses. Guard your heart. Guard your peace. We will get through this. Together.”

~Written By Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Tayler and Mike Kooienga

Tayler Kooienga is a healthcare worker who normally works in an outpatient endoscopy center in Grand Rapids. When that center was put on temporary closure, Tayler called Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital to offer her assistance. It could have been easier or safer to remain home, but Tayler chose to go to the frontlines. She says, “I felt I had to do what I could to help.” It is with this giving, selfless heart that she serves her patients.

During this pandemic, she has worked with men and women fighting against Covid-19. Because she is not ICU certified, she cares for patients once they are off of the ventilator and making progress towards recovery and discharge.

Like Tayler, her husband, Mike, is also in the medical field. Normally, he works in a procedural area of the hospital but has been redeployed to the ICU to assist with the growing volume of patients. While the ICU stays busy, the rest of the hospital seems eerily empty. Saint Mary’s has canceled all elective procedures and surgeries that normally keep these units lively and full. Visitor restrictions also play a big role in the quietness.

While the group of patients have increased in West Michigan, Grand Rapids still hasn’t seen the vast amount of coronavirus cases like that of East Michigan. However, Tayler says that “there is a constant sense of uneasiness about when it will become as bad in this part of Michigan as they are warning us it will.”

One of biggest challenges that Tayler has seen thus far is the emotional taxation that isolation plays in the lives of her patients due to visitor restrictions. Tayler says, “As a nurse, you are one of the only in-person interactions these patients have during their stay. They can call or talk to their loved ones over video chat, but it’s just not the same as having them by your side during a difficult time. I cannot imagine how hard that must be.”

We are continually grateful for the sacrifices that Tayler, Mike, and all other healthcare workers are making to save lives. You are our heroes! We pray for protection and health to surround you as you treat and serve those in the hospital.

In closing, Tayler wanted to say this, “I would like to acknowledge and thank all the people who are putting their lives at risk on a daily basis because what they do is essential and important. We appreciate all your hard work!”
Well said, Tayler. We couldn’t agree more.

~Written By Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Anthony Morales

Anthony Morales is a first responder in West Michigan, which means he works on the frontlines, at all times. Due to Covid-19, the challenges on the frontlines have increased. This pandemic is a threat that agencies haven’t experienced before. Policies and procedures are changing day-to-day in response to the outbreak, which leads to higher stress levels.

Anthony has been in law enforcement for over six years—first, in the Florida Department of Corrections, second, in the Michigan Department of Corrections, and now, as a Sheriff’s Deputy at the Kent County Jail. Corrections is not for the faint of heart. Each day presents new complexities. Anthony says that after a few years, many people find they cannot handle this line of work. Thankfully, we have men and women who are able to gird up under the difficulties, ensuring the safety and order of our cities.

As the pandemic continues to spread, correctional facilities are faced with growing challenges, one of which is social distancing. Social distancing isn’t always an option in a correctional setting. However, when it can be controlled, movement in and out of the facility is kept to a minimum.

Being on the frontlines in corrections requires courage and strength. Not just physical strength, but mental fortitude. We are proud of Anthony and the many workers in law enforcement. Thank you for stepping up and being ready. You are our heroes.

We echo the message that Anthony shares today, “Stay home. Wash your hands. We’ll get through this.”

Yes, we will get through this.

~Written By Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Holly Dishnow

Holly Dishnow is an inspiration. She is a Nurse Practitioner, mother of three children under the age of six, an active volunteer and leader in her church, and devoted wife to her husband of eleven years.
Dear Wonder Woman, I think you have competition.

Holly has worked in healthcare for over eleven years. For nearly seven of those years, she has been a Nurse Practitioner in Wound Care at Metro Health: University of Michigan Health Wound Healing Center. Holly specializes in treating chronic wounds, which are wounds that haven’t healed in 30 days or more. With each patient, she studies their medical history, plays detective to assess why a wound isn’t healing, and then creates a treatment plan. One thing that Holly loves about Wound Care is the opportunity to witness tangible healing.

Even before Covid-19, every day in Wound Care varied. Unlike some medical specialties, treating wounds cannot always be done via video visits. Treating wounds like venous leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers must be done in person. It is hands on work, debriding wounds and monitoring for infection.

Holly says, “As a working mom, I have many of the same challenges as others, finding childcare, having to miss certain activities like field trips, and balancing home responsibilities to ensure my family has dinner and clean laundry. During the current pandemic, there are other challenges. I wear scrubs at work that are laundered there, but as soon as I get home, I shower and launder the clothes and mask I wear to and from work. In this way, I try to lessen the risk of transmission to my family.”

As a safety precaution, her clinic has cut the patient load significantly to comply with social distancing, ensuring there are fewer patients in the waiting room. They also encourage any immunocompromised or high-risk patients to stay home, such as those with chronic lung disease or undergoing chemotherapy.

All patients are screened when they come into the office, and all employees are screened daily for symptoms of fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Masks and face shields are worn during all patient interactions. Every morning, the staff meet for updates and drills about what to do if they see a PUI (person expected of having COVID-19.) It is challenging to keep up with the constant changes and adapting practice as needed to be able to continue caring for the patients.

With the high need for healthcare workers, any staff that is not needed in the clinic is sent to a labor pool to be used wherever needed in the hospital. Providers are being asked to sign up for extra shifts in the ED or ICU to be called in if needed in case of surge.

Holly wanted to share this message with you, “Thank you! As a healthcare worker, I have definitely felt loved and supported by the community. We’ll keep doing our part to care for you. Keep doing your part by staying home and following CDC recommendations. And to all the moms out there learning to be teachers and trying to stay healthy and sane, I’m right there with you. You’re doing great! We’re all in this together!”

Thank you, Holly, for being a hero on the frontlines.

~Written By Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Andrew and Cait Seppo

Andrew and Cait Seppo are a dynamic husband and wife team in West Michigan that offer a holistic approach to healing through Chiropractic medicine. Not only do the Seppos have big hearts for health, but they also serve the community through partnering with Hand2Hand, The American Red Cross Blood Drive, Samaritan’s Purse, Habitat for Humanity, Heights of Hope, and Community Action House.

When asked why Andrew chose to get his doctorate in Chiropractic, he said, “I fell in love with the human body, and I’ve always had a great appreciation for how God designed the body to function. After taking an anatomy and physiology class in college, I was drawn to the holistic philosophy of chiropractic. I’ve also always loved people, and I am so thankful I am able to pursue a profession that I love while also working with people every day.”

Cait was drawn to the natural practice due her to regular use of a chiropractor as she trained 25-30 hours a week as a Division III gymnastist. She fell in love with “the holistic approach to health and the appreciation for how proper movement, nutrition, and alignment played an integral role in keeping people healthy.” After she broke her back and neck, chiropractic medicine literally gave her the chance to live and move again.

Since opening their own practice, the Seppos have treated a wide variety of patients— musculoskeletal conditions, headaches/migraines, alleviating pain for pregnant mothers, and preventative care. Each month, they treat an average of 300 patients. Pain and medical conditions did not end when COVID-19 began, which is why Seppo Chiropractic has been a blessing to its patients who need care to function daily or to give quality to their life. According to Cait, “We are SO GRATEFUL to be open and to be able to serve however we can in this season.”

They are taking every precaution to ensure safety for their patients by incorporating stringent sanitation measures, following all CDC guidelines and those provided by state associations and malpractice insurance, spreading out scheduled patients to limit personal contact, and triaging patients before they come in to check for symptoms of illness.

In this time of uncertainty, the Seppos would like to give this message of hope: “This too shall pass. There is very little difference between vision and provision from our God. What our God sees, He provides for. And although that may not take away the battles we fight, we can rest assured that our God will be faithful to meet our needs and carry us safely through to victory.”

~Written By Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Julissa Uribe

Julissa Uribe is a healthcare worker in California, a state with 40 million residents and the first to lock down on March 19th. Along with her Warrior Squad in Modesto, Julissa is working hours around the clock to help patients fight against COVID-19.

Julissa works in the Kaiser Emergency Department, where each day, she steps onto the frontlines. She says, “My heart bleeds for everyone that is affected by this virus in any way.”

With the high volume of cases, the Kaiser ER has set up a tent outside for triage. There, patients are assessed and treated for respiratory and flu-like symptoms. This triage is open from 7 AM to midnight. After midnight or when the tent exceeds its limit, the inside respiratory lobby is used. In addition, they have established an outside tent where technicians operate a portable x-ray machine. In this way, they limit the amount of patients entering and exiting the hospital. When patients are beyond the treatable regulations in the tent, they are moved to a room inside the hospital.

“No one likes the unknown nor uncertainty,” says Julissa, “but we will cross that bridge when we get there. Remember, each of us can help make a difference, we are in this battle together. Help us fight, help us by doing your part and stay home. Help us by understanding and following the rules.”

We are thankful for Julissa and her team of healthcare heroes, fighting on the frontlines during this pandemic. Thank you for your sacrifice and service.

~Written by Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)

Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Carmen Slenk

Carmen Slenk, an occupational therapist in Lansing, Michigan, works in rehabilitating geriatric patients at Medilodge of Campus Area. In order to safeguard the patients, each employee enters through the back door of the building, where their vitals are checked before being permitted into the common areas.

Statistics show that COVID-19 has presented greater risk in people ages 60+. Since the majority of patients are over this age, Medilodge is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of their patients.

With the uncertainty and sorrows surrounding this pandemic, it is easy to be swept up in fear. That is why Carmen and the other therapists at Medilodge are going above and beyond to bring fun and cheer to the workplace. Today, staff are donning their flower-power and tie-die prints for Hippy Day.

Thank you to Carmen, and all the other therapists on the frontlines, ensuring care and help to their patients. We appreciate you.

 

~Written by Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)