F R O N T L I N E P E O P L E AWA R D S To all our team members at LCMC Health,
Thank you for providing
healthcare with heart. At LCMC Health, our people are the magic makers on the frontlines and behind the scenes making every day extraordinary for our patients and community. That’s why we’re proud to be a presenting sponsor of Gambit’s Frontline Hero Awards – to support our frontline heroes, in healthcare and beyond, for their extraordinary efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
Here are just a few of our magic makers at LCMC Health:
Christi Cabos, RN, Children’s Hospital New Orleans Employee Health Manager, personally guides staff who are exposed to the virus. She also puts in countless hours leading the hospital’s vaccination effort and advocates for the health and wellbeing of our team members, patients and community.
Gail Bruce, RN, West Jefferson Medical Center Employee Health, works tirelessly to track employee exposures and provide staff guidance since the start of the pandemic. She now leads employee vaccination and is pivotal in keeping our workforce safe.
Danny Schellhaas, East Jefferson General Hospital Charge Respiratory Therapist, has an infectious personality and positive attitude, helping to keep his team calm under pressure and guide his staff to ensure they provide the best care for their patients.
Kristine New, RN, New Orleans East Hospital Outreach Projects Nurse Supervisor, is key to making important community events happen at the hospital. From the ﬂu vaccines to COVID-19 testing and vaccination, Kristine’s positive attitude and leadership make all the difference.
Donna Stevenson, LCMC Health Patient Access, assisted with COVID-19 testing at various community sites and nursing homes and was part of LCMC Health’s HEART courier team picking up and delivering much-needed supplies all over the city. She now assists with vaccine scheduling.
Melissa Pennbaker, NP, Touro Palliative Care, stood up a comfort care unit in the hospital at the height of the pandemic and ensures COVID patients’ and their families have what they need to make difficult decisions and that families can visit with loved ones that are end of life. Richard Reese, University Medical Center New Orleans Director of Logistics and Supply, led a massive effort at the hospital to ensure there was sufficient PPE with creativity and determination. From sourcing critical items to setting up conservation measures, Rich’s work has been extraordinary.
We’re on a mission to vaccinate our community for wellthier tomorrows. Will you be in that number? Visit LCMChealth.org/coronavirus for details on eligibility.
To live your happiest, healthiest, and fullest life is something we like to call being wellthy. At LCMC Health, we’re working hard to get you back to doing what’cha wanna with community COVID-19 vaccination. So, when it’s your turn to be in that number, roll up your sleeves and live wellthy.
Learn more at LCMChealth.org
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
Live wellthy. Get vaccinated.
F R O N T L INE P E O P L E AWA R D S PRESENTED BY
Baptist Community Ministries steps up
to support Greater New Orleans through grants, chaplaincy, wellness outreach and more BY AMANDA MCELFRESH
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
Over the past 25 years, Baptist Community Ministries, a faith-based Christian nonprofit, has provided $208 million in grants to more than 1,200 organizations serving Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. The grants specifically go to groups that work to improve health, education and public safety for citizens. Since COVID-19, BCM has continued to focus on those areas while also recognizing there were pressing community needs. So far, BCM has granted $1.6 million in COVID-19 relief funding to 47 local organizations, including the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Second Harvest Food Bank, New Orleans Business Alliance, Greater New Orleans Foundation, and smaller groups that focus on specific neighborhoods or areas of need. “There were immediate needs for food, clothing, shelter and job security,” said Jennifer Drummer, Director of Development for BCM. “It was heartbreaking for us to see that, especially among the gig economy workers. They were the first ones to be affected. It made sense for us to support these organizations. It’s been growing from there.” For example, BCM recently awarded $30,000 to Agenda for Children in partnership with Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) for COVID-19 testing for local child care workers. “By providing free COVID testing to child care workers, early childhood education centers can remain open, which
is invaluable for children and individuals employed there,” Drummer said. BCM is also providing on-the-ground support during the pandemic. Last year, BCM received 9,000 masks that were distributed to 121 churches across the Greater New Orleans area. BCM continues to distribute masks to residents. Four BCM network church partners have served as host sites for COVID-19 testing, and 11 have served as food distribution centers. This hands-on work is in addition to BCM’s longstanding chaplaincy and congregational wellness programs. In
“by providing free covid testing to child care workers, early childhood education centers can remain open, which is invaluable for children and individuals employed there,” drummer said. the chaplaincy program, professional chaplains provide emotional and spiritual support in the community. Through congregational wellness, church members are trained to begin and maintain health ministries in their faith congregations. Drummer said both of those programs have expanded significantly within the past year. “Our chaplains normally make 100,000 personal connections in a year. This past year, they made 147,000
personal connections,” she said. BCM has chaplains at several area hospitals, plus four who work exclusively with the New Orleans Police Department. Those chaplains often accompany officers on ride-alongs and provide emotional support to law enforcement, crime victims and their families. “A lot of times, a BCM chaplain will be at a crime scene with police officers and will follow the paramedics when a victim is taken to the hospital,” Drummer said. “Once the victim has arrived at the hospital, the BCM chaplain who is stationed there will take over. But we have found that a lot of victims only want to speak to the chaplain who was at the scene. They feel like they have gone through a trauma together and there is that trust. It’s the same with the officers. Many of them have trusting relationships with certain chaplains, and that allows them to open up.” BCM’s congregational wellness program has three main components. In the Church Nurse Education Program (CNEP), registered nurses are trained on how to establish and sustain health ministries in their own churches. The Congregational Health Promoter Program (CHPP) trains health advocates, community leaders and church members without a nursing background on how to help their fellow congregants improve their health. The Strategies to Trim and Reduce Project (STAR) advocates for improved blood pressure control and weight reduction. Drummer said 145 institutions across
all faiths are involved in BCM’s congregational wellness, up from 137 just one year ago. The programs reach more than 50,000 congregants each year. “A lot of nurses were getting questions about health and wellness from their fellow congregants,” she said. “We do trainings for those nurses several times a year. We also started hearing from laypeople who wanted training on health and wellness. A lot of congregations cannot get together right now, so they are doing services online. We are doing the same thing by offering training online because it is needed now more than ever.” So far, more than 600 registered nurses and lay health advocates have been trained by BCM to establish and build wellness programs in local churches. Moving forward, Drummer said BCM plans to continue both its grantmaking and on-the-ground work as the region navigates the ongoing pandemic and its lingering effects. BCM leaders also recognize that its core focuses of health, education and public safety will be even more important in communities in the coming months and years. “We are always looking for partners for both our grantmaking purposes and our strategic work,” she said. For more information on Baptist Community Ministries, visit www.bcm. org, call 504-593-2323 or email info@ bcm.org. To help support BCM’s crucial nonprofit work, please visit: www.bcm. org/donate.
BCM is a nonprofit dedicated to helping protect our communities from COVID-19. In the past year BCM has: awarded $1.6 million in COVID-19 relief funding to 47 local organizations, including $30,000 going towards COVID-19 testing for child care workers in our community made 147,000 personal connections with people in need of emotional and spiritual support through our chaplaincy services donated 9,000 masks, which were distributed to 121 churches across Greater New Orleans partnered with four BCM network churches to host COVID-19 testing, as well as 11 churches to serve as food distribution centers
To help support BCM’s crucial work, please visit:
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
strategized with various public and private stakeholders to ensure equitable COVID-19 vaccine roll out and distribution to the people of New Orleans
F R O N T L I N E P E O P L E AWA R D S PRESENTED BY
The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) is a nonprofit membership organization that serves as the leading voice for Louisiana Charter Schools. The mission of LAPCS is to advance equity and educational access through the advocacy, support, and promotion of excellent charter schools in Louisiana. New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) is an non-profit that focuses on solutions and programming addressing city-wide education talent, curriculum, policy, and communications. NSNO’s mission is to deliver on the promise of excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans.
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
Together, we applaud all of our educators, school leaders, and support staff in the city and honor the following three individuals who so clearly represent excellence, care, and perseverance. Thank you for working together to educate and support the students of New Orleans.
Dr. Jennifer Baudy
DIRECTOR OF MENTAL HEALTH Harriet Tubman Charter School Dr. Jennifer Baudy holds a doctorate in social work from Tulane University. She is the Director of Mental Health at Harriet Tubman Charter School’s 3rd-8th grade campus. “And what that means,” she says, “is that I’m a jack of all trades. I have the privilege of being able to make sure our social-emotional supports are in place for our students and that the wonderful teachers and mental health providers have what they need to provide services.” But “no day is a typical day,” she explains. In addition to managing mental health and social work services, she connects with families, works with the student leadership council, is a liaison for students who are unhoused, and more. “She has a pulse and a touchpoint with almost every team, every family,” says Zondra Howard, Principal of Harriet Tubman’s 3-8th grade campus. “She doesn’t want [students] to just have academic success, she also wants to encourage their development as well-rounded, healthy, and happy individuals.” Dr. Baudy keeps an eye on the mental health of staff members, too. “At the start of this year, everyone was coming back emotionally drained. We’d gone through the pandemic, we’d experienced the trauma of George Floyd, we experienced the revolution that happened as a result, with the Black Lives Matter movement. We were coming back with all of these emotions and now we’re supposed to open a school; and in order to be successful in our work for kids, we needed
to make sure we were mentally prepared.” Dr. Baudy helped them do it. She created a “Blue Table,” modeled after Jada Pinkett Smith’s roundtable talk show, “The Red Table” (but blue to match the school’s color). Dr. Baudy invited staff to come talk with her and connect. It was a huge success. “They talked about all of the things that were impacting the work. And I think that was a really powerful thing to do because as educators, as nurturers, we’re always thinking about how we can serve others– but that was a moment to step in and say ‘what do I need to make myself whole?’” Dr. Baudy makes sure students can feel whole as well. Khalia C. is in 8th grade at Harriet Tubman Charter School, and she works with Dr. Baudy as a member of the student leadership council. “During this pandemic, things have been really, really tough for us. It’s really a struggle, and Dr. Baudy has really pushed us to be motivated, to be clear, to be confident in what we want to do.” Baudy has made clear to Khalia and her classmates that she is a resource, and Khalia takes her up on it. “I feel like I can always just talk to her about anything. When I have a problem that I want to get solved, or something that my peers tell me is a problem for them, I go to her.” When we asked Khalia if there was anything else we should know about Dr. Baudy, she laughed. Her face lit up and she brought her hands to her heart. “You will love her,” she said.
Dora Kebadio Muanda
SCIENCE TEACHER Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans and experiments in her classroom. This year, of course, COVID-19 has meant that students could not share common materials, or sometimes be in their classrooms at all. But Ms. Kebadio Muanda has found joyful workarounds that allow learning to remain physically engaging. To remember the difference between the states of matter, for instance, she has students pull their hands together as a solid, wiggle them apart just a bit for a liquid, then send their hands apart and fingers waving to represent the motion of a gas. Then she has her whole class of students go through those motions in a rhythm all together, chanting in French “solid, liquid, gas!” And Ms. Kebadio Muanda’s methods stick. “I always say to my students, ‘you know that you know something if you are able to wake up at three in the morning and answer a question without any doubt.’ And at the beginning of the year, a student said to me, ‘I will never wake up in the night and think about science.’ And then at the end of the year, he came to me and he said, ‘I woke up in the middle of the night, and I was thinking about science!’” Even throughout a pandemic, Ms. Kebadio Muanda has continued to bring science to life for her students and spark the strength in them. Her own strengths as a teacher are abundantly clear.
SCHOOL NURSE Morris Jeﬀ Community School
Kaci Sexton is in her third year of being the nurse at Morris Jeff Community School. She says her first day feels at once like “just yesterday and a lifetime ago.” Nurse Kaci was quickly busy addressing the medical needs of Morris Jeff’s students, who are in pre-kindergarten through senior year. But when COVID-19 hit, her work changed. When school buildings closed last spring, Nurse Kaci worked with the school to distribute food and computers to students. While she wasn’t working in-person with students directly, she also began working nights at a local hospital. “I was feeling that there was just kind of a call for me to go in when so many nurses were struggling and understaffed. So, I took a night job working at the COVID unit at LCMC.” As school prepared to re-open partially in person this fall, Nurse Kaci worked with the team at Morris Jeff, New Orleans Public Schools, and local hospitals to implement safety protocols and best practices for re-opening. (Now that students and staff are partially back in-person, she is not working at LCMC.) The pandemic has expanded her role. “Right now, my main job beyond the ‘boo boos,’ and ice packs, and health plans, and tube feedings, is now sort of the COVID healthcare supervisor... teachers have enough on their plates. That’s why I’m here—to assess the
students, make sure they’re safe and healthy, and by proxy, keep everyone safe and healthy. And I advocate with the teachers and students to make sure we’re here under safe conditions.” While the logistics of COVID safety can be complex and technical work, Kaci always leads with the heart. COVID-19 has not changed the fact that nursing is, at its core, both medical and interpersonal. When a child comes into her office, they aren’t their symptoms; they’re people. This is true even when that child might be having a tough day or acting out. “I truly believe in a holistic approach to everything. When you’re met with a student with challenging behavior, it’s so easy to be dismissive and write them off as ‘a troubled kid,’ but…[they’re] just someone that really needs some extra TLC and attention...because once we treat the needs that aren’t being met, then the behavior’s going to change,” she explains. She says she is grateful for the opportunity to have time and space with young people, no matter the situation. “The thing I love about nursing is that it gives me an opportunity to connect closely with people...I cherish that, and it’s an honor to get to be a part of that,” she says. Morris Jeff’s community, and our city, cherish her, too.
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
Dora Kebadio Muanda teaches 6th grade science and 10th grade Biology at Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans, a public charter French immersion school, accredited by the French Ministry of Education. She was recruited from Belgium as a “foreign associate teacher” by the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana. “When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor, but I realized I’m more excited about finding out what is going well in people and encouraging them to develop their strength rather than finding out what’s going wrong and trying to fix it. I wanted to find the strength. And who better than a teacher to highlight people’s strengths?” she asks. She believes that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education is a particularly powerful way to bring out the strength in young people, communities, and whole nations. “There was a time when a country’s wealth was measured with the quality of natural resources. But today the wealth of a modern nation is measured primarily in the innovation in science and technology. The goal of STEM education is to create that innovative mindset in the youth,” she explains. Ms. Kebadio Muanda believes in hands-on learning, and most years, she finds many opportunities for labs
“Nurse Kaci” (Kaci Sexton)
F R O N T L I N E P E O P L E AWA R D S PRESENTED BY
An incredible career as an Emergency Medicine Technician is just four months away!
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
Classes and job opportunities in New Orleans
Acadian Ambulance, the nation’s largest employee-owned ambulance service, has immediate training and career opportunities for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics in the Greater New Orleans area. “The need for medics has never been greater. As a result, we are offering recruitment incentives for existing EMTs and paramedics, and we have an accredited EMT education program right here in New Orleans,” said Acadian Regional Vice President Tim Burke. “With the opening of the Acadian’s National EMS Academy campus in New Orleans, we hope to bring in people who are interested in something other than college or a desk job, and help train them for a career in EMS,” Burke added. “Young people in New Orleans can go to school for a few months, start working sooner and continue on a viable career path— without ever needing to leave home.” Acadian’s EMT training program takes about four months to complete
and is a hybrid combination of online courses and in-person skills training. The skills training is conducted at Acadian’s facilities in New Orleans, Covington and Houma. With the hybrid program, students can take the EMT course while still in high school, college or working at another job. The program is in partnership with South Louisiana Community College, and financial assistance and scholarships are available for those who qualify. For anyone interested in learning more about the EMT program and the EMS careers, Acadian has scheduled several free, no-obligation online information sessions throughout March and April. During the information sessions prospective students will learn about the online program schedule, enrollment process, current tuition and financial aid options. Instructors are able to answer questions in the chat during and after the session. Prospective students must attend one of the free information sessions prior to registering for the classes. To see a schedule of the information sessions
planned, visit becomeamedic.com. Acadian’s National EMS Academy is dedicated to providing a positive learning experience for students, using a combination of online instruction and real-life simulation to create an exciting environment for learning. In addition to the New Orleans campus, the National EMS Academy has campuses in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Covington, Houma, Lafayette and Lake Charles. EMS is a vital and essential industry, with the roles of the EMT and paramedic continuing to be in high demand. Over the next 10 years, the increased demand and responsibility for EMS professionals will require moving from technical certificate programs to full-on degree programs. This professionalization of the field will ultimately lead to higher salaries for those working in the EMS field. Also, the economic outlook for the EMS field is positive. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of EMTs and paramedics is projected to grow by 15% between
2016 and 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. This year Acadian Ambulance is celebrating their 50th anniversary. Acadian is a nationally known and highly respected company and the only ambulance service in Louisiana to have earned accreditation by both the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) and the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS), signifying the gold standard in pre-hospital medical care and transportation. They currently operate a fleet of 628 ambulances and 12 air ambulance helicopters. Acadian serves a population of more than 24 million people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. In addition to providing emergency and non-emergency pre-hospital care and transport, Acadian provides EMS education, industrial health, environmental and safety services, inspection, training, consulting, dynamic security equipment and monitoring for homes and businesses and charter flight services.
PHOTOS BY DAV ID GRUNFELD
Paramedic, Lieutenant NEW ORLEANS EMS
FAVORITE LOCAL COFFEE SHOP: THE STATION FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT: MAHONY’S PO-BOYS Sarah Bass is a paramedic lieutenant for New Orleans EMS. For the last two and a half months she has worked as the vaccine site coordinator for New Orleans EMS, overseeing vaccinations for EMS, fire and several other frontline city agencies. Bass’s second full-time job is caring for her three small children while her husband is deployed overseas with the Louisiana Army National Guard 1-141st Field Artillery Battalion. This has often meant juggling work while helping their children with virtual learning (in French!). Bass also volunteers her time to assist other families of deployed soldiers as part of the Army Family Readiness Group.
Alaina Gaugis Carter World History Teacher
NEW HARMONY HIGH SCHOOL FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: CASTNET SEAFOOD FAVORITE BOOK READ DURING COVID-19: “MIDDLE PASSAGE” BY CHARLES JOHNSON
Alaina Carter made her World History curriculum come alive over a Zoom platform, while fostering brilliant student-led discussions with ease. As an advisor, she makes regular rounds to students’ homes to check-in on their work and progress. Carter has also proven to be a true advocate on behalf of the teaching staff when it comes to voicing their needs through a challenging school year.
Dr. Shondra Williams, PH.D. CEO
INCLUSIVCARE FAVORITE BUSINESS: FRESH MARKET FAVORITE LOCAL OUTDOOR SPACE: AUDUBON PARK Dr. Shondra Williams, the Chief Executive Officer of InclusivCare in Avondale has been on the frontlines of the pandemic offering Covid testing and vaccinations. In addition, the clinic staff provides primary care, urgent care, women’s health, pediatric, dental, podiatry, and behavioral health and pharmacy services. To assure affordability, InclusivCare utilizes a sliding fee discount program to assist eligible patients with accessing quality healthcare regardless of their ability to pay. Additionally, Dr. Williams believes in giving back to the community. She participates in the Jefferson Community Foundation’s Race Equity Reconciliation meetings to pursue equity for all people in the metropolitan New Orleans area.
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
or the past year, New Orleanians have stepped up and answered the call to service for our community. People have volunteered, put in long hours at work and navigated extreme and challenging circumstances. COVID-19 completely changed the world of work and life as we know it. The following honorees (nominated by our readers) are a small representation of the thousands of workers who have saved lives, provided essential services and masked up to try and make Louisiana a safer and healthier place. Thank you to everyone in our community who have been on the frontline during the pandemic. We are grateful for you all. Thank you to LCMC Health, Acadian Ambulance, New Schools for New Orleans, Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools and Baptist Community Ministries for supporting this special section.
Dr. Courtney E. Williams Director or Student Engagement & Leadership DILLARD UNIVERSITY
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: THE CUPCAKE COLLECTION FAVORITE LOCAL BAND: REBIRTH BRASS BAND Dr. Courtney Williams is a tireless advocate for students and education. As the director of student engagement and leadership at Dillard, Dr. Williams has been a team leader of the Dillard University-wide COVID Response Team — leading the team responsible for campus engagement, student services and events, as well as drafting its Return to Campus Reopening Plan. He hosts a weekly webinar for the campus community to provide updates about COVID-19 and the campus response. Dr. Williams gives his full heart to the Dillard and New Orleans communities, while caring for and empowering Black university students.
John McIntyre General Manager
THE HOWLIN’ WOLF
Registered Nurse/ Loyola Law Student THE PEOPLE’S PPE FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: BLUE CYPRESS BOOKS FAVORITE LOCAL BAND: TANK AND THE BANGAS Jade Hawk is a local behavioral health nurse. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hawk has worked tirelessly to keep up to date with PPE recommendations and ensure all patients and coworkers have adequate resources. He created The People’s PPE (thepeoplesppe.org), a community website that identifies different types of PPE supplies and provides research into their protection claims. Hawk also has handed out masks at local community events, including the Black Lives Matter marches last summer.
FAVORITE LOCAL RETAIL STORE: PEACHES RECORDS FAVORITE GREENSPACE TO RELAX: THE FLY AT AUDUBON PARK Since March 23, John McIntyre has worked to feed musicians, first responders and health care workers as part of the Meals for Musicians Program at the Howlin’ Wolf. Every day, McIntyre cooks, makes plates and organizes food distribution alongside a team of volunteers and local nonprofit agencies. Throughout the pandemic, McIntyre and the Howlin’ Wolf team has coordinated this massive undertaking that has served 10,000 meals to date, three days a week.
Dr. Joseph Kanter ER Physician and State Health Officer
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
UMC AND LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: PARLEAUX BEER LAB FAVORITE LOCAL OUTDOOR SPACE: PARLEAUX BEER LAB Dr. Joe Kanter has been leading Louisiana’s response to COVID-19 by coordinating regional clinical services, emergency preparedness, infectious disease control and strategic health initiatives. He is focused on providing healthcare to all Louisianians — with a deep commitment to making sure vulnerable populations receive equitable care. In addition to being a public health adviser to Gov. John Bel Edwards, he continues to see and care for ER patients in New Orleans. PH OTO PR O V I D ED B Y D R . J OS EPH K A N T ER
WEST JEFFERSON MEDICAL CENTER FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT: PERINO’S BOILING POT FAVORITE LOCAL BAND: REBIRTH BRASS BAND Kenya Mitchell works in environmental services in the Emergency Room at West Jefferson Medical Center. She is an unsung hero who has been a part of a valuable team that is responsible for preventing hospital-wide infection. Mitchell always has a smile on her face and takes pride in her work.
PHOTO BY GREEN STILL PHOTOGR APHY | PROVIDED BY ALISHA REED
Dr. MarkAlain Déry, DO, MPH, FACOI
Infectious Diseases Physician and Epidemiologist ACCESS HEALTH LOUISIANA
FAVORITE LOCAL SMALL BUSINESS: NOLA SOCIAL JUSTICE RADIO; 102.3 WHIV FM FAVORITE BOOK READ DURING COVID-19: “THE DOCTORS’ PLAGUE” BY SHERWIN B. NULAND
PH OTO B Y J I L L L A F L EU R
Dr. MarkAlain Dery has been on the frontlines of the pandemic treating those with COVID-19. He is an active member of Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s Public Health COVID Task Force, where he presents a weekly review of major public health updates to local leaders. Dr. Dery’s most notable achievements were his fight against disinformation. Not only did he author about a dozen op-eds that were published in major media outlets, he also started a daily podcast (COVID NoiseFilter) that is syndicated nationally on the Pacifica Radio Network. The podcast analyzes the day’s Covid stories through a filter of social, economic and racial justice. By the end of January 2021, he had recorded over 200 episodes. He also contributes daily COVID updates to WHIV FM and appears on WBOK AM weekly.
MMS (NEW ORLEANS COVID FACILITY), UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER , LA HEALTH DEPARTMENT, LEARNTOLIVE
RN & Deputy Medical Operations Manager
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: THE GOOD SHOP FAVORITE WAY TO UNWIND: BUBS BURGER AND A CAN OF BIG PEEL BEER FROM ZONY MASH In 2020, Yanti Turang helped with the building of the University Medical Center’s COVID Tent, as well as patient care for many of the city’s Covid patients. She also did a nine-month stint as Deputy Operations Chief for the Louisiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 Medical Monitoring Station at the Convention Center. In coordination with the National Guard and U.S. Navy, Yanti led the design and implementation of the 1000 bed facility and oversaw nursing and medical protocols for the patient population. Yanti also worked with the Crescent City School network to help reopen five of their campuses. PH OTO B Y ER I N N E A L E | PR O V I D ED B Y YA N T I T U R A N G
FAVORITE LOCAL SMALL BUSINESS: THE BEAD SHOP FAVORITE BOOK READ DURING COVID 19: “UNTAMED” BY GLENNON DOYLE Dr. Alisha Reed is a widow, mother, pharmacist, life coach and creator of the lifestyle brands, NOLA Bougie and Fly with Alisha Reed. After the sudden loss of her husband in 2019, she created “Fly with Alisha Reed” to share her journey of grief and loss in real time. She hosts The FLY Widow Podcast and sells FLY Planners and Journals, while also continuing to inspire other widows and women struggling to find joy and courage to live life with passion, purpose and to “First Love Yourself.” Reed is also a wellness advocate, mentor and ambassador for the American Heart Association.
Darren McKinney Crew Leader
Darren McKinney has volunteered and worked on staff with lowernine.org since 2006, so he’s no stranger to disaster response. During COVID-19, he assisted in mobile food distributions, and helped set up a permanent brick-and-mortar pantry, The Levee Pantry, in partnership with Common Ground Relief and Second Harvest Food Bank. Now, he is back to the organization’s regular work: building and repairing homes for his neighbors in the Lower Ninth Ward, which the organization does Tuesday through Saturday every week with volunteers and a small staff. PH OTO CO U R T E S Y O F L AU R A PAU L
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: GERALD’S DONUTS FAVORITE THING TO WATCH DURING COVID-19: “CHOPPED”
Donneisha Wilson, LPC, NCC
Communities In Schools Gulf South SITE COORDINATOR AT MORRIS JEFF COMMUNITY SCHOOL
PH OTO CO U R T E S Y O F D O N N EIS H A W I L S O N
Donneisha Wilson, is a Communities in Schools (CIS) site coordinator at Morris Jeff Community School. As soon as schools moved to virtual learning last spring, Wilson found ways to adapt the services she provided to students and families in new and innovative ways. This school year she has worked with students who are both in person and virtual and has ensured that they all have access to “social emotional learning,” counseling, enrichment, self-esteem building programming and any basic needs they may have, such as food, clothing or utility assistance. Wilson has gone the extra mile and delivered groceries and basic needs to her student’s homes, provided holiday gifts for families in need, and even supported her colleagues at CIS by running a “sunshine committee” to support other colleagues during this difficult time.
Ryan Joseph Gallagher High School Principal/Education BROTHER MARTIN HIGH SCHOOL
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: METAIRIE SMALL ANIMAL HOSPITAL FAVORITE LOCAL BAND: GALACTIC
Darvis Harvey Pharmacist
ALIGN INFUSION FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: TOO MANY TO CHOOSE ONE FAVORITE LOCAL OUTDOOR SPACE: CITY PARK Darvis Harvey is the owner and operator of Align Infusion Pharmacy. He is a pharmacist that provides critical medications to patients that are homebound and in assisted living. He also has private rooms available for patients to come in to receive their medications in a safe and clean environment. Harvey has been working around the clock since COVID-19 to provide care to vulnerable populations.
As school principals across our area have risen to the occasion in the past year to pivot to online learning, create safety protocols for their school communities and train staff and students on how to return to campus, Ryan Gallagher has also helped lead the Brother Martin High School student body in assisting others as they dealt with natural disasters and pandemic conditions over the past year. A few of the service initiatives, directed under Gallagher’s leadership, include collecting supplies for Hurricane Laura victims, working with the science department to 3D print and distribute more than 1,700 mask extenders, and creating the school’s NJROTC #CrusadersForHealthWorkers letter-writing program for health care professionals. PH OTO CO U R T E S Y O F R YA N J OS EPH G A L L AG H ER
Chris Vazquez Executive Chef
RED FISH GRILL
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: RALPH BRENNAN RESTAURANT GROUP FAVORITE LOCAL BAND: THE REVIVALISTS
Christopher Vazquez is the executive chef of Red Fish Grill, a French Quarter restaurant with a large staff who have been displaced from work due to occupancy restrictions and reduced hours of operation. For the last 10 months, Vasquez has led Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group’s effort to feed tens of thousands of New Orleans families. Twice weekly, Vasquez prepares a free, boxed three-course meal offered for curbside pick-up and available to all Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group staff members. Each meal box feeds a family of four. Additionally, thrice weekly, he cooks and prepares packaged meals for Chef’s Brigade, a local program that provides restaurant quality meals to NOLA residents in need. To date, Vasquez and his small yet nimble team have served 35,000 free meals to working and displaced staff members, as well as 15,000 meals for Chef’s Brigade.
Courtney Bartholomew Executive Director VISTA SHORES
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: THE MUNCH FACTORY FAVORITE RETAIL STORE: FLEURTY GIRL Courtney Bartholomew oversees all Vista Shores senior living community operations to ensure that residents receive the highest quality of care possible. During the pandemic, with a touch of ingenuity and creativity, Bartholomew found a way to bring families together for quality “touches” at least three times a week. Through window visits, Facetime visits, a simple photo or a loved one blowing a kiss, Bartholomew and her team made sure that communication, connection, and care continued for those that needed it most.
Javonda Nix, MPH Advocacy Director STAR
FAVORITE LOCAL RETAIL SHOP: ASHLEYLORRAINE PHOTOGRAPHY FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT: CRAZY WAFFLE BAR PH OTO CO U R T E S Y O F S U N N Y T R A M B A D I A
Javonda Nix is an advocacy director at STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response). In this role, despite the pandemic, she has continued to work in the field to create a safe space for survivors and make connections with community partners to ensure survivors are receiving quality services and resources. Since Covid, STAR has seen a rise in hotline calls because survivors are now having to navigate their trauma and deal with the pandemic. Nix is happy to be a part of the process in supporting survivors in their healing process and to serve her community. PH OTO B Y C A P T U R ED B Y E S B E | PR O V I D ED B Y JAV O N DA N I X
Physician Assistant PA REMEDY ROOM
UMC EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT. FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: BYWATER BAKERY FAVORITE THING TO WATCH DURING COVID-19: “GOLDEN GIRLS” Nanci Zhang graduated nursing school in Spring 2020. She immediately began working in the ER, caring for some of the sickest Covid patients. She was scared but determined to help. Throughout it all, she continued volunteering weekly with Culture Aid NOLA at food distributions, serving thousands of community members. She has also brought joy and connection to other members of the community, including elder culture bearers and medically vulnerable residents, helping solve issues of mobility and isolation so they can walk pain free and maintain independence. In her free time, Zhang advocates tirelessly for the health of her community, volunteers at vaccination drives with the health department and looks forward to live music returning to New Orleans so she may sing for strangers again. PH OTO B Y M I C H A EL LO U IS | PR O V I D ED B Y N A N C Y ZH A N G
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: DIRTY COAST FAVORITE WAY TO UNWIND: EATING AT NEW LOCAL RESTAURANTS WITH MY WIFE Sunny Trambadia is a physician assistant (PA) at The Remedy Room, an integrative medical clinic located in New Orleans and Metairie. Since March 2020, Trambadia and the Remedy Room team have helped more than 300 patients who have tested positive for COVID19 by using high-dose vitamin C IV and oral supplements to treat viral symptoms. Working extended hours and on holidays, Trambadia’s patient care strategy has been to not only help improve symptoms but to also increase each patient’s own immune system to help them overcome their illness.
Chantel Newman, RN, BSN School Nurse
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: THE RUSTIC BRUSH FAVORITE BOOK READ DURING COVID-19: “PRAYER CLOSET: A MOTHER’S PRAYERS FOR OUR CHILDREN” BY ELYDIA P. KETCHENS Chantel Newman has been a nurse for 11 years with the past five years being in the school system. John Ehret High School is the largest public school in Jefferson Parish with 1700 students, and Newman is the official Covid tracker. She investigates all cases whether it is an individual testing positive or a faculty member who was a close contact. She follows through on all contact tracing. At one point, Newman had to contact trace approximately 75 students in one day. In addition, she is responsible for assisting students with health issues and monitoring students with diabetes, asthma or other health conditions. Newman loves the students, and she enjoys reaching the kids at their level to help raise them up.
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
JOHN EHRET HIGH SCHOOL
PICU/CVICU Registered Nurse OCHSNER MAIN CAMPUS
FAVORITE LOCAL RETAIL STORE: DOLCE BOUTIQUE FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT: WELTY’S DELI Although Morgan Hahn was trained as a pediatric ICU nurse, she didn’t hesitate to step up to help care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients early in the pandemic. However, a week after signing up to help Covid patients, she became one herself. She spent two days in the hospital, then two weeks recovering at home. Once she was better, she returned to caring for Covid patients. “I had an amazing team to get back to, and I was not going to let this virus hold me back,” she said. “I returned to work as soon as I was cleared. Here we are a year later. I never imagined we’d still be consumed by Covid. We’ve sacrificed so much this year, and it’s challenging to see the light at the end of the tunnel. When I start to feel burnout, I turn to my coworkers, who continuously fuel my fire. They give me strength and constantly remind me that the fight isn’t over yet. We still have a lot of work to do.” PH OTO PR O V I D ED B Y M O R G A N H A H N
Zack Bridgeford Manager
LANGENSTEIN’S FAVORITE RESTAURANT: NEW ORLEANS FOOD & SPIRITS WATCHING DURING COVID-19: “TROLLS” WITH HIS FIVE CHILDREN Zack Bridgeford has not only on been working on the frontline at Langenstein’s in River Ridge every day, but he has become a frontline community leader as well. It is not just being in the store that makes him a hero, but his constant commitment to having the items his community needed in store. And when an item was not there, he found it, picked it up and brought it to store so his customers had what they needed most. Hitting social networks on the way back to the store, the River Ridge community stood in line to wait for Bridgeford to pull up with hand sanitizer, paper towels, cases of water and other essential items. When he wasn’t picking up items, he was focused on the doors staying open and creating community experiences — including driving the Easter Bunny around River Ridge when children were confined to home.
ICU Nurse-currently Director of ICU
PH OTO PR O V I D ED B Y T U L A N E M ED I C A L C EN T ER
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: FLEURTY GIRL FAVORITE BOOK READ DURING COVID-19: “FLIP THE SCRIPT: LESSONS LEARNED ON THE ROAD TO A CHAMPIONSHIP” BY ED ORGERON
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
Tina Gipson is a veteran nurse, who often serves as a mentor and inspi-
ration for her colleagues, and she has worked as an ICU nurse throughout the pandemic. “I’m a director and several young nurses said, ‘I don’t think I can handle this amount of death,’” she said. “Truth, is I’ve been a nurse for a long time. I’ve been through Hurricane Katrina, and I’d take a Category 5 roaring in the Gulf over Covid any day.” Throughout the course of the last several months, Gipson has seen the very best in her team. “I look at my nurses. The ones who on day one said, ‘I don’t think I can handle this,’ look like battlefield veterans now. I’ve seen displays of love, care and compassion. The most important thing that you won’t read on a nurse job description is being compassionate, not just to our patients, but also to each other and our teams. That compassion — it takes my breath away.”
PH OTO B Y S T EPH EN L EG EN D R E | PR O V I D ED B Y T I N A G I P S O N
Director of Facilities Services TULANE HOSPITAL
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: SCOTT MOULEDOUS CONSTRUCTION FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT: ACME OYSTER HOUSE Tommy Rushe was practically living at Tulane hospital in the early days of the pandemic. The facilities team are often the unsung heroes working in the background to make sure the facility is operating safely for patients and employees. Rushe and his team were responsible for building walls and plastic barriers for Covid units, installing air scrubbers to create Covid patient rooms and so much more.
PH OTO CO U R T E S Y O F PAT T I C A R R I G A N
Carrigan Delivery Service
PATTI CARRIGAN, BRYAN CARRIGAN, R ALPH SEALS, KERRI WOMACK, WOODY, EDDIE CARRIGAN FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT FOR FAMILY CELEBRATIONS: SUPERIOR GRILL For more than two decades, The Carrigan family has been delivering Gambit (and many other local publications) to hundreds of locations across three parishes. They have delivered in extreme heat, cold, and stormy weather. This year was a particular challenge when the pandemic hit, and the family continued to brave uncertain circumstances — while masked and sanitized — to bring the free press and local journalism to readers across our area. Patti Carrigan, our frontline hero and the family’s matriarch keeps the operation together and makes sure every stack of Gambit is delivered and every copy is picked up. Patti’s father, Mr. Ralph, just turned 90 this year and is still eager to go out on the route. In addition, Patti’s children and husband who regularly help with delivery are frontline heroes in their second lives. Patti’s daughter, Kerri, is a teacher in Jefferson Parish. Patti’s son, Bryan, has been delivering essential goods for UPS. And her husband, Eddie, is the production manager of a local manufacturing company. Our Gambit family is grateful to the Carrigan family for bringing us to you — every week.
The Capital City Press Production Team
FRONTLINE HEROES: MARCH 2021
(Gambit | New Orleans Times Picayune | The Advocate | Acadiana Advocate) and our commercial print partners are beholden to our Production facilities’ employees that keep the presses running to bring you, dear reader, copies of YOUR favorite print publications each week. This team is tasked with printing, bundling, and shipping the paper, and NEVER stopped a beat during the pandemic and a very active storm season this year. This “behind the scenes” vital crew puts in long hours on the frontline and gives great care to make sure that community journalism thrives in the state of Louisiana.