Twelve-hour-plus days and unwavering attention to the latest recommendations for patient and personal care during the COVID-19 pandemic are daily considerations for Ferris State University alumni working as professionals for health care providers in Mid-Michigan and West Michigan.
Dr. Elizabeth Albright, who graduated from Ferris’ College of Arts and Sciences in
2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Biology with a Pre-Medicine concentration,
is on the medical staff at Metro Health’s Primary Care office in Caledonia.
“There are 14 Metro Health sites in the greater Grand Rapids area and when a potential respiratory care case is identified they are directed to our office or one of two others in the system,” Albright said. “In this response plan, I began as the designated physician for patients with respiratory illness. As the caseload for these patients grew, it has become a team effort.”
Albright said that the last three weeks have brought about a radical shift in patient contact methodology. She added that her workplace serves as a triage site. That adjustment has involved great preparation as predictive models indicate the pandemic’s peak is expected late in the first full week of April, she added.
“The first week of Metro Health’s response plan, I was working 13-to 14-hour days,” Albright said. “There has been kind of a pall as we anticipate the work ahead, with long days very likely to come as we respond during COVID-19’s regional peak.”
Albright said that bedside or examination room manner has gone virtual for patient and medical staff safety.
“There is no comparison to what may have been seen as business as usual,” Albright said. “I am taking phone calls or making video contact with patients while recognizing that we are an important, and the potential last line of defense for our patient community. Whenever possible, we are striving to provide our patients with the care and support they need, without their being admitted to the hospital.”
Ferris alumni are also gathered and active at Sparrow Clinton Hospital’s emergency room in St. Johns. Physician Assistant-Certified David Boedeker, a native of Eaton Rapids, earned an Associate of Applied Sciences in Nuclear Medicine Technology, then graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Health Care System Administration. He said that every patient that arrives suffering from a stroke, broken bone or other ailment is received as a potential COVID-19 carrier.
“Each day before my shift, I check all communications from Sparrow, because there are frequent changes to our methods as they relate to patient contact, along with information about personal protection equipment,” Boedeker said. “It was six weeks ago that the operational shift began to take shape. If I, or any of our response team, find themselves feeling ill, we all have to get tested before entering the ER, to assure that we are well and ready for work.”
The Ferris connection in the Sparrow Clinton ER is magnified by the presence of Nikki Hudson, Kylie Conrad and Autumn Doody, who earned their Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of Health Professions in 2016, 2017 and 2019, respectively.
“Ours is a small emergency room,” Boedeker said. “We all were trained to work as teams, focus on problem-solving and to be resilient. I never thought, 12 years ago, that I would be a physician assistant, responding to a pandemic.”
Albright and Boedeker said that their service on the front lines of healthcare response to COVID-19 is a demanding, but rewarding opportunity.
“When it comes down to it, this is why I got into medicine,” Albright said. “It is part of the core of our mission to be of assistance, especially in circumstances like these.”
“John Wayne’s quote, ‘Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway’ seems to sum up what I am thinking these days,” Boedeker said. “I see this as a watershed moment in my medical career.”