HSU on the Healthcare Front Line

July 2, 2021 Jaidyn Kamplain

Looking back on the unprecedented challenges that COVID-19 brought to the world, we would like to take time to recognize a few of our Hardin-Simmons family who have worked in the healthcare industry throughout the pandemic. We are thankful for the hard work they have done to help with this crisis and proud that they are part of HSU.

Clay BullsClay Bulls

Clay Bulls is a PA Hospitalist and faculty member for the PA department at Hardin-Simmons. Most of his days were spent admitting and treating COVID-19 patients at various stages of respiratory failure. This included caring for patients with symptoms requiring mild respiratory support to treating patients with fulminate respiratory failure requiring intubation and ventilator support.

Clay said, “I truly believe that being a PA is my calling and I know that I serve a faithful and loving God. I am blessed to be able to do His will and I see each day as an opportunity to serve Him by serving others.”

Tenell ZahodnikTenell Zahodnik

Tenell Zahodnik had been working as a Physician Assistant in the Emergency Department at Hendrick Medical Center since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“There would be times triage would be so full of ill COVID patients that we would have multiple people on portable oxygen tanks because the ED was full and we didn’t have beds,” said Dr. Zahodnik.  “I’ve seen things that have changed who I am as a provider and a person. I have gone home and wept over patients we couldn’t save. This pandemic and this time in healthcare has been terrifying, exhausting, infuriating, and exasperating at times. But, I can say without a doubt that this has been my greatest honor to serve alongside my ED colleagues who I consider to be a true work family as we battle this virus and try to keep Abilene well.”

Brad ButlerBrad Butler

Brad Butler, HSU Board of Trustees Member and alumnus, fought against the COVID-19 pandemic on two fronts: one as an anesthesiologist at Hendrick Medical Center and the other as a squadron commander in the Air Force Reserve.

He and his group partners were tasked with planning and implementing Hendrick’s COVID airway team. This meant that they took shifts being available ‘in-house’ 24/7 to promptly and safely place breathing tubes for patients who became sick enough to require mechanical ventilation. This activity has an inherently high risk of exposure to the virus, but Dr. Butler and his coworkers were thankful for proper personal protective equipment. They were also forced to adapt their protocols when caring for both COVID positive patients requiring other procedures while ensuring they protected staff and non-COVID patients from exposure to the extent possible.

As a medical squadron commander for the Department of Defense, Dr. Butler was directed to prepare and mobilize members of his unit, which consisted of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and technicians, who were sent to assist with efforts in New York City last year.

“I am extremely proud of these Reserve professionals- from the time they were notified of orders to deploy, they were on the ground in under 48 hours,” said Dr. Butler. “Nothing I have seen in my 20+ years in medicine has fundamentally altered the way we work and live like this viral pandemic. On a positive note, the world has seen first-hand the selfless dedication of our healthcare professionals. Everyone has been forced to be adaptable and innovative. Thankfully, we are better equipped to face this challenge than at any time in our history.”

Rylee IacominiRylee Iacomini

Rylee has worked as a scribe in the emergency department since January of 2020, helping to document each patient’s visit to the ED. In communication with the doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner, Rylee types up details such as the patient’s current symptoms, past medical history, and treatment plan.

Rylee said, “Though the role I play in patient care is small, the insight I’ve gained from being in a medical setting during this crisis is substantial. I am amazed by the adaptability and teamwork of the providers I work for. Encourage your friends and family, encourage the worn-out nurse, doctor, or caretaker, encourage yourself, and trust in our God.”

Gregory PerryGregory Perry

Gregory Perry is a pharmacist and adjunct professor for the PA department at Hardin-Simmons. He serves on the Hendrick Health COVID Medical Committee and helped coordinate the COVID-19 Vaccine distribution for Hendrick and most of Taylor County. He is also the site coordinator and co-investigator for clinical trials at Hendrick Medical Center related to COVID-19 treatment.

Gregory said, “During this pandemic the care provided to patients has been multidisciplinary with all disciplines playing a key role in the treatment of patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19.”

Kathryn NortonKathryn Norton

Dr. Kathryn Norton is a general surgeon here in Abilene and treated patients with COVID who required surgery. She is also a professor at HSU’s Physician Assistant school, training  healthcare students to be able to serve communities both now and in the future.

“In healthcare, it is important to remember that you do not need to know everything. The most important thing you can know is when to ask for help,” said Dr. Norton.

Brandon MillerBrandon Miller

Brandon Miller was a medical assistant in a local pediatric office and was able to witness first-hand the effect of COVID-19 on the community. He was able to be a supportive voice who assured patients that they were in good hands.

Brandon said, “I was extremely blessed to be surrounded by the best with our staff, nurses, and doctors. They all taught me so much about the field and many valuable life lessons during this time that I will cherish forever. Even during these uncertain times, I am thankful and excited to be a part of the healthcare world.”