COVID-19 Concern Team marks two years at the forefront of pandemic response

The month of March marks the two-year anniversary of the Kelsey-Seybold COVID-19 Concern Team’s efforts dealing with the pandemic’s many challenges.

For the dedicated physicians, nurses, administrators, and staff members who still serve as Kelsey’s day-to-day, go-to source for pandemic-related issues, the journey began with uncertainty and a need to quickly organize a response.

“When I got the call on March 1, 2020, I knew this was a serious situation, but I had no idea where to start or where it would go,” said Tammy Carter, Director of Practice Integration. She described how the team of clinicians and staff quickly came together to research information and began sharing it “until we developed a base of information and a structure to follow.”

That meant creating COVID-19 management protocols, organizing command centers and rooming protocols, and providing drive-through testing procedures for an onslaught of worried patients, among other challenges.

Patty Silva, RN, Nurse Manager, bringing test specimens to command center.

“I will never forget when the first patient came through the Main Campus COVID-19 testing site on March 17, 2020,” Tammy said. “She had her name and date of birth on one side of her sheet of paper as instructed. On the other side, she had decorated a lovely ‘Thank you’ sign. I realized at that moment healthcare had changed.”

Joelle Melton, RN, Nurse Manager, and Gina Sosa, RN, Coordinator, completing the COVID-19 testing process.

For Donald Aga, MD, Medical Director for Innovation, it was immediately clear that the pandemic – with all its uncertainties – would require extraordinary collaboration and communication.

“We collaborated directly with each other and the Houston Health Department, we shared monoclonal antibody treatments with sister institutions, and we became a vaccine hub for the Greater Houston area,” he said. “I think the most extraordinary transformation for us was how we created teams of experts to help the organization solve problems related to the pandemic. It has truly been remarkable to witness.”

The way members of the COVID-19 Concern Team bonded as a group has also been wonderful to see. “Team members from various parts of the clinic came together, got to know each other, learned each other’s strengths, and, most importantly, fostered trust,” Tammy said.

There were touching moments, too. As team members arrived at Main Campus to be tested for COVID-19, some of their colleagues made signs and gathered at the parking garage to cheer for them. “As emotional as it was for us, we wanted to let them know they were supported and loved because we knew how scary it was,” she added.

L-R: Sheronda Sherow, LVN III; Luis Velasquez, LVN II; Waverlie Pena, LVN II; and Hannah Parks, Specialty Administrator, runners for the Swab and Go team. 

The COVID-19 Concern Team still meets today, working to stay agile in confronting whatever challenges lie ahead.

“We are extremely grateful to everyone who has taken part in our COVID-19 response and for the special efforts of this extraordinary team,” said Tony Lin, MD, Chairman of the Board of Managers and CEO. “They have been an inspiration, and we’re so glad they’re still hard at work in our fight against the pandemic.”

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