‘Watch Out for Each Other’ Say UMGC Alumni, Faculty Members on the Coronavirus Front Lines

Each May, the nation celebrates National Nurses Week, National Police Week and National Emergency Medical Services Week.  And throughout the month, University of Maryland Global campus has been recognizing some of its own first responders—nurses, EMTs, police officers and others—among its community of faculty members and alumni who are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These UMGC Voices featured on the university’s social media channels during May, offer reflections on the current health crisis, words of wisdom and expressions of gratitude.

Sandra Alintah ‘19, M.S. in Health Informatics Management, works as a nursing coordinator with an affiliated agency of the Department of Disability Services.

“During this public health crisis, allocating resources and providing extra staffing has been vital for most health care organizations. The use of personal protective equipment has become mandatory for non-essential and essential health care workers. As this crisis continues to unfold and we begin to adapt to a new normal, it is important to manage our mental well-being and establish daily communication with our loved ones. Please follow all CDC recommended guidelines and protect yourself and your family during these unprecedented times.”

Siti Banks ‘19, B.S. in Nursing, is a registered nurse who works in a neuroscience Intensive Care Unit.

“We are social beings, and with human interaction currently limited it’s easy to feel alone and isolated. Times are tough right now, but it will get better. During this crisis, I have truly realized just how resilient and dedicated nurses and other health care workers are. Despite the many challenges we face on every shift, all of us are working together as a team to ensure the best outcomes for all our patients. The best support we have received thus far is from the people who are abiding by requests to stay home. This is the best way we can flatten the curve.”

Edward Maveric T. Canto ‘19, B.S. in Nursing and MBA, is a nurse at the Captain James Lowell FHCC VA Hospital, working hands-on in a COVID-19 Unit on the hospital’s Medical-Surgical floor. The patients received there are either COVID-positive, recovering, or suspected cases.

“I’m so grateful to work side-by-side with some of the best and highly experienced RNs during this pandemic state. As a veteran working in the VA as a nurse, I couldn’t be any prouder of my job. It gives me a sense of purpose—not just serving my fellow vets—but also helping me discern what I am destined to do while continuing to provide quality and unconditional care for all my patients. And to all front-liners out there, please be safe. Remember what you signed up for, but at the same time, take care of yourself. Don’t let this pandemic get to you!”

Rich Ehrlich, UMGC adjunct professor in Public Safety, is a police sergeant assigned to an Internal Affairs unit. 

 “Working in Internal Affairs does not have a lot of public contact. But this crisis has made me realize how much harder it is to do anything, like an interview, without in-person contact. It’s even harder for officers in the street to interact with the public. Try to be compassionate and remember that everything is not as it seems. To our students, keep learning! Take advantage of the faculty members who can pass on their real-world experiences to you as you complete your programs. These will be invaluable lessons as you continue in your careers in public safety.”

John Haddaway ‘19, B.S. in Criminal Justice, a 19-year-veteran of the Baltimore County Police Department, is a corporal assigned as a Homeland Security team supervisor.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is causing much confusion, misinformation and fear as everyone tries to figure out the best way to navigate this crisis. Society, including law enforcement, has had to pivot into a realm that has not been experienced by many. My duties shifted from working with critical infrastructure and private-sector stakeholders to enhance their security posture, to a more emergency management role with my department’s Incident Management Team. This shift has changed the face of policing, as law enforcement officers must now undertake positions they have never experienced.”

E.J. Hannig, UMGC adjunct associate professor in Public Safety, is a police sergeant with the Baltimore County Police Department.

“During this pandemic, I am proud to watch our communities come together and take care of each other. I’ve been watching how most people want to take care of total strangers in public by practicing the CDC guidelines—such as wearing masks, social distancing. I was a volunteer firefighter when 9/11 happened, and this renewed sense of caring for each other is something that our nation demonstrates time and time again. Look out for one another. Just because someone is a stranger doesn’t mean they don’t need your help if you’re in the right place at the right time.”

Randall R. Jones, UMGC adjunct assistant professor in Criminal Justice, is an accreditation manager with the Fort Meyers, Florida, Police Department. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he serves on the Pandemic Response Team.

“As a career law enforcement officer, I have learned that change and adversity are all part of the job. Whether you’re dealing with an active shooter, loss of a fellow officer, the 9/11 terrorist attacks or a pandemic, if you stay focused and committed, your training and experience will guide you through. We can never predict the future, but we can prepare for it. I wish all UMGC students to stay safe and look out for one another. Please take care of yourselves, your family, friends and loved ones. These times may seem tough or even endless, but our future will be brighter, and we will all come through this better.”

Juharia Magno ‘19, B.S. in Nursing, is a nurse case manager at an acute care hospital.

“With the current public health crisis, I have been truly touched by the outpouring of support from different businesses and individuals. We have received homemade cloth masks and food or meals from restaurants and businesses. It just shows how we all can pull together as a community and boosts the morale of health care workers. Thank you to everyone who is supporting those working on the front lines and please continue to follow CDC guidelines so we can continue to flatten the curve—the best support and help we can get!”

Karen McNulty ‘20, B.S. in Nursing, is a registered nurse at the University of Maryland Baltimore-Washington Medical Center.

“During these unprecedented times, words cannot express how thankful I am for all of the love and support that we as front liners have received during this COVID-19 pandemic. All the words of encouragement, thoughts, prayers, cards, donations of PPE and food, and much more, have been so greatly appreciated! As for the public, this pandemic has affected us all in different ways, but you are never alone. We are in this fight together!”

Michelle Whittington Milam, UMGC adjunct professor in Criminal Justice and Investigative Forensics, is chief of police for the Maryland Department of Transportation/MVA Police Department. 

“As we look forward to the COVID-19 crisis coming to an end, it is important to remember that it will take some time to adjust to the ‘new normal.’ Social distancing in some format is here to stay for the protection of everyone. My favorite thing about teaching is preparing the next generation of students for careers in law enforcement and other disciplines so they will be ready to handle situations like this and protect our communities with their strength and knowledge.”

George Nichols, UMGC adjunct professor in Public Safety, is a deputy chief with the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Police Department. He oversees the Bureau of Forensic Science and Intelligence. 

“During this current public health crisis, I have seen more unity and willingness to assist the less fortunate. I can’t express enough how grateful I am to our community partners. I would like to thank every community partner in Prince George’s County for the unwavering support that is our driving force during this pandemic. And to my students and those in our communities, remain vigilant and focused. These are trying times that will reveal your perseverance and ability to succeed—pressure makes diamonds!”

Dana Saddler ‘20, B.S. in Public Safety Administration, is an emergency communications supervisor for Fire Dispatch.

“As a 911 Center employee for the past fifteen years, one of the things I noticed most during this public health crisis isn’t related to any particular call or direct personal experience, but something uplifting overall—how the community and other public safety agencies are really pulling together to support us and each other during this serious time. Whether it is a private citizen sending meals to us on our duty shifts or other public safety agencies donating masks for us to wear while working, we appreciate it. It is inspiring and shows that we are all a family and united in this fight together.”

Ellen Sheridan, UMGC adjunct professor in Nursing, is the program coordinator for VIZIENT, the CNI Summer Program and Mentorship Program at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. 

“I think what impresses me most is the willingness and enthusiasm of the front-line nurses. So many times, you hear nurses say, ‘this was my calling.’ As I walk around the hospital, this sentiment rings true. And I know you’ve heard this a hundred times, but please maintain social distancing, wear a mask when in public areas, wash your hands and minimize interactions. Practice self-care—safely! Engage in something that makes you happy and relaxes you whether it is reading, listening to music or walking in uncrowded places. We are all in this together!”

Stephanie Somers-Roblero ‘20, B.S. in Nursing, is a nurse care manager.

“These are trying times and I have lost a co-worker due to COVID-19. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to please be careful and be safe. Hand washing and practicing good hygiene are essential to avoid spreading the virus. Even doing things like washing all your produce and perishable items before placing them in the fridge will help combat the spread of germs. And if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are immuno-compromised, please be extra cautious and definitely don’t take this virus lightly!”

Sandra Sund, UMGC adjunct professor in Nursing, is a family nurse practitioner.

“Many patients like to be seen in their homes rather than in the clinic setting. It makes them feel more comfortable. As a family nurse practitioner, I provide care in homes for those who might not otherwise receive care. I do follow CDC guidelines when I am conducting home visits. During this health care crisis or any other crisis, I urge everyone to follow safety guidelines as set forth by the CDC as well as other health care organizations. In the health care profession, the safety of our communities and our patients is always the top priority.”

Hector Velez, UMGC adjunct associate professor in Public Safety, is assistant chief of police for Prince George’s County, Maryland, Police Department.

“It is challenging for all of us to sacrifice many of our freedoms. In any other catastrophe, we have been able to mourn and grieve with our loved ones. In contrast, this pandemic is physically keeping us apart. We must be more creative with the way in which we demonstrate our support to our friends, neighbors and our community members. For those of us who aren’t on the front lines, take this time to practice self-care. Surrender to what you can’t control and shift your perspective to see this as an opportunity to regroup and rejuvenate from the typical daily grind.”

Kurt Wall, UMGC adjunct associate professor in Public Safety, is a sergeant with the Howard County, Maryland, Office of the Sheriff.

“During this health crisis, we had to alter the way we respond to calls for service. Job descriptions in the police department have changed temporarily to better support our community needs. At times, we help at food distribution sites, deliver food to families who can’t get out, and we monitor temporary housing for seniors and homeless members of our community. We also had to broaden our focus on the well-being of our staff. These are unprecedented times and we recognize that we are in this together.”

These voices represent a few of the many first responders in UMGC’s global community. To learn more, go to UMGC Voices.