How Roles Have Changed Since COVID-19

At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, our staff works each and every day to provide the best care possible to children and their families. And it has been truly inspiring to see the dedication, heart and strength they are putting forth in taking extra precautions for the health and safety of kids across Georgia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our employees—no matter their role—encourage others with their commitment to caring for our patients, as well as their determination to making their time with children and their families as comforting as it can be. So we asked them to share why they love their jobs here at Children’s and how this crisis has impacted the work they do. Here is what they shared with us.

Tara Smith
Critical Care Transport Nurse, Pediatric and Neonatal Transport
Assistant Nurse Manager

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to enhance our use of protective equipment while still providing comfort to children during these frightening times. We have kid-friendly washable mask covers with some of the most popular cartoon stars, as well as toys that are wiped down after each use. When we are picking up sick children from adult hospitals, we protect our little patients with masks, if needed, and we expedite our time in and out of adult facilities. I absolutely love what I do! I have always been the type of person who runs toward disasters while others are running from them, so I feel comfortable and prepared for whatever COVID-19 may bring. I love being trusted with these little lives. It’s such an honor that is given to me by parents to take care of one of their most precious possessions. One of my favorite things is that I get to be the first hands to stabilize sick or injured children. With my skills as a nurse, parents are able to see ahead and know that the care their child is about to receive at Children’s is some of the best in the country.”

Lauren S. Middlebrooks, MD
Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician at Egleston hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“As an emergency medicine provider, we are the first line of defense. We are trained to think and move efficiently, yet thoughtfully, and are expected to care for the most critically ill patients. While always anticipating the unexpected, I don't think any of us could have guessed we'd be involved in a pandemic. We get a short amount of time during our visits with some of the most diverse patients, yet we are now trying to build rapport through layers of protective equipment. Babies, who once found comfort in kind eyes and soft smiles, are now face to face with eye shields and masks. During a time when emotional comfort is needed most, we also have to practice social distancing. We now place phone calls into our patients’ rooms to answer questions and concerns, something we typically do in person. Yes, new obstacles are present, but we made a commitment to serve our community—treating the seriously ill and injured—and that commitment did not come with conditions. So, we will keep showing up and will continue to work together to provide the highest standard of medical care until our nation is healed.”

Linda Cole
Chief Nursing and Hospital Operations Officer
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

“I’ve completed a lot of rounds over the past few weeks and talked to our staff, and I’m humbled and impressed with our team on the front lines. While many people are running from COVID-19, our staff and physicians are running toward it. The work they are doing day in and day out during their shifts demonstrates our Mission. There’s a lot of unknowns around the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is one thing I am certain about: Our team takes care of patients with infectious diseases every day, and we are prepared to fight whatever comes our way.”

Mike Mallory, MD
Chief of Medicine
Campus Medical Director at Scottish Rite hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“With things rapidly changing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s imperative that we keep our physicians on the front lines informed of all the ways Children’s is working to fight COVID-19. We’ve been communicating with our physicians through email each day and have hosted webinars with other community physicians to share what we’ve been learning and how our System is adapting to be prepared to serve Georgia’s kids and their families.”

Reena Blanco, MD
Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician
Emergency Department Medical Director at Egleston hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to look at patient care from a different perspective. However, the truth is, the Emergency Department hasn’t changed. We are still here 24/7 and focused on delivering quality care to children, while also protecting our team so that each person can continue to serve every child at Children’s.”

Ruthie Hoover
Child Life Specialist
Emergency Department at Egleston hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“My job is to help patients and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of being in the hospital. During this time, I am trying to find new and creative ways to help decrease our patients’ anxiety—even when I don’t get to see every single one of them. I do this by using FaceTime, sharing handwritten notes attached to stuffed animals or by collaborating and supporting our Emergency Department team. I know that being in the hospital can be very scary for children and their families, but I love that I am able to prepare and support patients throughout their hospital journey.”

Gregory Tanner
Respiratory Care Practitioner
Assistant Respiratory Manager at Egleston hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“Our primary role is to reduce a patient’s work of breathing. We do this with the use of medications and other interventions. Just knowing that we are able to help someone in need, brings a feeling of joy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to make adjustments to protect patients and ourselves from its transmission. Keeping our staff updated on the new guidelines to reduce its transmission is a major part of my day.”

Omar Peterson
Environmental Services Technician at Scottish Rite hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“My role during the COVID-19 pandemic has been very challenging, but it is rewarding knowing that I have done my absolute best to ensure the safety of our staff, patients and their families. The precautions we are taking during these times to help ensure everyone feels safe—and as if they have a safe haven while here at Children’s—have been the same as they would be in any other time here. I take pride in my role to ensure we have a clean and safe environment at Children’s, and I believe COVID-19 will be defeated. Thank you for taking time to show me that my role is not taken in vain and greatly appreciated.”

Brandy Kasik
Assistant Manager of Respiratory Care
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Scottish Rite hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“As a respiratory therapist, I am one of the many responsible for performing the aerosol-generating procedures that increase the risk of exposing myself to the virus, as well as other caregivers in the room. But, we are all devoted to making our patients better, even when it’s scary. The hardest part of my job is being an Assistant Manager and supporting staff who come to me with COVID-19-related clinical questions or just simply express their own fears in this unprecedented time. As their leader, they rely on me to be a resolute source of support. The reality is that sometimes all I can say is, ‘I understand why you’re scared and I share your fears, but we are all in this together.’”

Facility Dog

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“I was born for this moment! I am a facility dog dedicated to our staff at Children’s, and I work with the Rev. Michael Fogas—he’s also a chaplain here. I sit comfortably in the uncertainty of things, as long as I know my people are near, and that I am going to get some treats and a bowl of food here and there. I've been going to the hospital both day and night during this pandemic to help support our staff during rounds. I am happy to be a source of so much love and joy for all my friends out there in the hospitals, clinics and offices all over our System. I do have one important message I want to share: Please take care of yourselves. We need all of your help to beat this thing.”

Jaleesa Warren
Patient Activity and Gaming Technology Specialist
The Zone at Scottish Rite hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“I help create a purposeful, fun and therapeutic environment where kids can be kids while in the hospital. While under the heavy restrictions of COVID-19, I’ve had to reimagine what fun looks like. My team and I have created fun, to-go crafts, also called The Zone To-Go, where we put together activity kits with slime, paint and beads. We’ve also produced a daily TV show for kids to participate in from their rooms. Being able to see a kid go from sad to happy from the activities and shows we provide reminds me why I love doing what I do every day.”

Millie Peterman
Medical Assistant,
Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center
Primary Care Clinic at Hughes Spalding hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“I triage and obtain labs for patients in the clinic, as well as our sickle cell disease and transfusion patients. Since COVID-19, I’ve been helping with the screening process at the Hughes Spalding hospital entrance. Most parents are cooperative, especially after we explain everything with how our new visitor restrictions work and why they are important. I love being able to help and care for others.”

Sarah McWaters
Music Therapist at Scottish Rite hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“Music therapy is one of many services that helps reduce anxiety in our patients, their families and our staff. Even though extra precautions now have me singing and playing outside a patient’s room and through the halls, I am still able to share the joy of music at Children’s.”

Shelly Moore
Food Service Attendant at Egleston hospital

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“I do this for the kids, because they are our future. They are the most beautiful people in the world. I come to work to do my best for the kids, and to make sure their meals are hot, fresh and on time. When I see ‘my’ kids—because I feel like they are my kids—I love to make them smile and be a comfort to them. I love to come to work and serve our patients anyway possible, so regardless of what is going on around us, I will be here for them.”