At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals around the country shifted their focus to preparing for and treating patients with the disease. As non-urgent surgeries were postponed and new procedures were put in place to ensure the safety of everyone at our hospitals, HCA Healthcare colleagues rose to the occasion by asking one simple question – “what can I do to help?

With a shared purpose, colleagues assumed new duties like screening patients and sterilizing personal protective equipment (PPE). Many stepped up to the front lines of the crisis, seeing new daily challenges and their traditional roles dramatically redefined.

2020 has brought unimaginable trials, and we are thankful for our 280,000 colleagues who have bravely answered the call. Meet a few HCA Healthcare colleagues who are continuing to deliver superior, patient-centered care while using their skills in new ways.

Meranda Merrill, Cache Valley Hospital (North Logan, Utah)

Meranda typically works as a patient care tech in the Wound Care Clinic at Cache Valley Hospital. During COVID-19, Meranda was called to work at the front door as a screener. During her first three weeks in the role, Meranda logged more than 80 hours of screening.

“I like being a screener because I know I’m doing my part in helping keep our employees and patients safe,” Meranda says. “I’ve screened a lot of people over the past few weeks and I believe this process helps give most of them that extra peace of mind before entering our hospital.”

Meranda Merrill

Lisa Jones, Terry Fehn and Kelsey Bolar, Lakeview Regional Medical Center (Covington, Louisiana)

Lisa, Terry and Kelsey are normally found in the operating room at Lakeview Regional Medical Center. Lisa as a surgical first assistant and Terry and Kelsey as certified scrub technologists. During the pandemic, they were called to support their fellow colleagues and their community by sterilizing mission-critical personal protective equipment (PPE) like goggles and shields.

“Whether I am sterilizing surgical instruments or goggles for hospital staff, my job is to ensure patient safety and the safety of my Lakeview family,” Terry says. “Whatever needs to be done, you can count on us.”

Lisa Jones, Terry Fehn and Kelsey Bolar

Eliza Parker, Mission Hospital (Asheville, North Carolina)

Eliza Parker is an athletic trainer with Mission Sports Medicine at the University of North Carolina Asheville. After the season was cancelled for winter and spring sports and classes were moved online, Eliza had the chance to continue supporting the area’s healthcare needs in one of two ways: she could be a PPE runner or a screener at Mission Hospital. She ultimately decided to screen patients.

“I chose a place that is at more high risk for exposure because I am younger and fairly healthy and I don’t have anyone in the high risk category depending on me for care,” Eliza says.

Eliza Parker

Renee Williams, North Florida Regional Medical Center (Gainesville, Florida)

An experienced ambulatory surgery nurse, Renee Williams was redeployed to the 7 North Orthopedic nursing unit. Although it has been 30 years since she last worked at the bedside, Renee is feeling fulfilled in this new role after receiving additional training and working with registered nurse Janice Brengle. “I am enjoying it, a little more than I’ve anticipated,” Renee says. “I felt apprehensive about being redeployed at first…Would I be able to keep up? Would I be able to catch on to the new computer systems? All of that was on my mind. I feel much better about it now. The group on 7 North is very good to work with, and my preceptor Janice is awesome!”

“I enjoy the whole concept of nursing. To be there to take care of people and help them through a hospital stay, a surgery…it’s rewarding,” Renee adds. “Hopefully, you see a smile on the patient’s face when you leave the room, and that makes a world of a difference.”

Renee Williams

Oneyda Alvarenga, Cache Valley Hospital (North Logan, Utah)

Certified nursing assistant Oneyda was originally redeployed to the environmental services (EVS) team at Cache Valley Hospital, but you’ll also find her working in the deli, same day surgery, wound care or at the hospital entrance screening people.

“I’m everywhere!” Oneyda says. “We are doing everything we’re supposed to do, and I feel safe. That’s important to me—to feel safe at work.”

Oneyda Alvarenga

Karl Harris Bernas, HCA Houston Healthcare North Cypress (Cypress, Texas)

Karl Harris Bernas, a registered nurse and U.S. Army veteran, not only volunteered to be an entrance screener, but he also offers to take extra shifts when fellow colleagues need time off or to fill in where needed.

“Karl has a big heart,” says his nursing director, Amanda Edgmon. “He never has a bad night and has amazing energy. He always makes his patients feel important and as if they are a part of the floor’s community. He is a very competent nurse and I wish we could find many new hires just like him. He’s really keeping our spirits up at this time. We’re happy that we have such a giving nurse on our team.”

Karl Harris Bernas

Susanne Walker, Tulane Medical Center (New Orleans, Louisiana)

As Tulane Medical Center began caring for COVID-19 patients, Susanne Walker, Tulane Health System’s supply chain clinical resource director, took on the role of PPE steward to ensure nurses and medical staff were always protected. Working around the clock, her leadership led to the company’s lowest PPE burn rate among active COVID-19 units.

“We all want to provide safe quality care within our facilities, and meeting the critical needs of our patients and care givers during this pandemic was extremely challenging,” Susanne says. “But it also made me very proud to be part of a team and company that puts safety first and has the ability to leverage and shift resources to meet the needs of everything from PPE to cleaning products and medical equipment.”

Susanne Walker

Megan Blanks and Lori Stoeckel, TriStar Centennial Surgery Center (Nashville, Tennessee)

Megan Blanks and Lori Stoeckel, registered nurses at TriStar Centennial Surgery Center, were redeployed to work at HCA Healthcare TriStar Division’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing center. They say they are thankful for the opportunity, and we are thankful for their, and all of our colleagues’, hard work and dedication to care for and improve human life

Megan Blanks and Lori Stoeckel with colleagues

Nashville-based HCA Healthcare is one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services, comprising 186 hospitals and approximately 2,000 sites of care, including surgery centers, freestanding ERs, urgent care centers, and physician clinics, in 21 states and the United Kingdom.