Heroes of the Pandemic

We continue to dedicate this feature to celebrating Covid-19 heroes.  Here, gathered from sources all over, are people and groups in many areas who are lending their energy and time to help others.

From People:

Dr. Ee Tay

It was just weeks after New York City was declared a COVID-19 epicenter that Dr. Ee Tay was to celebrate her birthday. As chief of the pediatric ER at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, Tay had been moved as she watched COVID patients dying alone in their hospital beds, unable to say goodbye to family and friends due to restrictions meant to curb the virus’ spread.

From Spectrum News 1:

A familiar face in the fight against COVID-19 in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — Since the pandemic began, Hashim Zaibak has been one busy man and a familiar face in the fight against COVID-19 in Milwaukee. Some days, he even needs a reminder to eat.

Zaibak is the co-owner of five Hayat pharmacies in Milwaukee.

Last May, he provided free COVID-19 tests to people on Milwaukee’s North Side after his place was vandalized during racial riots. That’s just the start of his dedication to others.

In January, after months of hard work and dedication, Hayat became one of the first pharmacies in the state to offer the vaccine.

Back in February, Zaibak was on his 50th day in a row when Spectrum News caught up with him. They added extra phone lines so seniors and people without access to computers had a place to call.

Now, he going on about 180 days straight​.

So, while it’s hard to put into words exactly how much he has done to help his community, one thing is clear: Zaibak and his team are everyday heroes who have been working nonstop to lead the way in the fight against COVID-19.

ABC News:

Travel nurses: Heroes who left their families behind to fight on the frontlines of the pandemic

When the pandemic first struck and millions around the world holed up inside, travel nurses across the country packed their bags, kissed their families goodbye and left everything behind to offer critical support on the front lines.

DaKoyoia Billie, a mother of four from Stockbridge, Georgia, is one of them. She’s been working with COVID-19 patients for the last year.

Billie said the job was daunting as the virus shut down the U.S., where more than 29 million have been infected and at least 527,000 have died.

Leaving her family in the midst of the uncertainty wasn’t easy.


Corona Project

Inspired by Dr. David Fajgenbaum and the CDCN’s success in identifying repurposed treatments for Castleman disease that are saving his life and others, we launched the CORONA Project in March 2020 to identify and track all treatments reported to be used for COVID-19. CORONA is the world’s largest database of COVID-19 treatments, covering 500+ medications that have been administered to 340,000+ patients, helping researchers to prioritize treatments for clinical trials and inform patient care.

Our best hope of saving lives while vaccinations are underway is to find more effective treatments right now. We must continue to look at repurposing existing medications. While there have been several notable failures in drug repurposing for COVID-19, a handful of drugs, including dexamethasone, have likely helped save tens of thousands of lives. We’ve identified 10 additional medications that, in collaboration with researchers at the FDA and elsewhere, we’re hoping to move into large, well-designed trials.

This repurposing approach follows the blueprint that led to the development of novel treatments for Castleman disease. Dr. Fajgenbaum, also a patient with iMCD, discovered and began testing one of these drugs on himself in 2014 and is in his longest remission ever (more here). The CSTL opened up a clinical trial of this drug last fall. For more about this approach, check out this video. Click the button below to access CORONA.

ABC News:

Therapy Dogs provide support to COVID-19 Workers

The Tri-State K-9 Response Team was called to the vaccine mega-center in Moorestown, NJ to provide emotional support to the volunteers, national guard, and FEMA first responders.

The group was called by Clinic Manager, Phyllis Worrell, who noticed the stressful environment the responders were working in.

From Boston University:

Melissa Ghulam-Smith (MED’09,’21)

The pandemic has taken a serious toll on people in many ways. Melissa cofounded Lifeboat Boston, Fenway’s largest food pantry, in 2017, and has helped to ensure that many in her community have access to fresh food, clothing, hygiene products, and PPE.

She and her team immediately developed processes and procedures to ensure that food distribution was handled in a safe manner and followed social distancing protocols. Melissa was able to develop partnerships with the state of Massachusetts COVID contact tracing team and the Boston Public Schools system to set up weekly deliveries to ensure that families in quarantine have access to food during their stay at home.

She has taken the steps to write and secure funding for Lifeboat Boston from the Boston Resiliency Fund (COVID relief grant) over two rounds, totaling nearly $40,000, and helped establish 360 care kits for the homeless. From the most recent award, it will be able to provide nutritional support by providing not only fresh food, but also infant formula, diapers, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies to families that have been seriously impacted by the pandemic.

Melissa is the most compassionate, hardworking, and caring person I know. She is a wonderful wife and mother, setting an amazing example to her daughter, Iman. She and her family are excited to announce that they will be welcoming a new baby into the world this summer. I am proud to nominate my wife, Melissa, as an unsung hero who cares deeply about her community.


Legal Compliance and the Gig Economy