As the local community and the world awaited approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in early December, all eyes were on the city of Portage and WMed faculty, residents, and staff were featured on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, the Today Show, and MSNBC.
The national coverage, which came courtesy of NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez, prominently featured the WMed community and gave the nation an up-close look at the preparations taking place at the medical school for the vaccine, a major milestone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gutierrez and his crew – Anthony McGowan and Bill Angelucci – spent several hours at the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus and the Oakland Drive Campus on Thursday, December 10. During that time, they were in the Simulation Center where they interviewed Dr. Tom Flynn, division chief for the Division of Infectious Diseases, as well as Drs. Alyssa Erskine, Neil Hughes, and Adam Ladzinski from the Internal Medicine residency program.
The trio also spent time on the fourth floor of the Upjohn Campus where they checked out special freezers that can be used to store the Pfizer vaccine. They also interviewed Robin Scott, manager of Occupational Health and Infection Control, and Prentiss Jones, PhD, director of Toxicology. At the Oakland Drive Campus, McGowan and Angelucci shot more footage and spent additional time with Drs. Erskine, Hughes, and Ladzinski as they made rounds in the Internal Medicine clinic.
“It was a pleasure to meet the staff at WMed,” Gutierrez said. “We’ve been telling the story of healthcare workers battling the pandemic across the country — and we wanted to speak to some of those who were working so close to the Pfizer plant where the vaccine was being stored. I’m glad we were able to shed some light on how hard they’re working — and tell a hopeful story after such a tough year.”
Director of Communications Laura Eller said each member of the WMed community who played a role in making the NBC News segment a success helped immensely in boosting the medical school’s local and national profile.
In addition to those who were interviewed by Gutierrez, Eller said she was thankful to Dr. Mark Loehrke, chair of the Department of Medicine, and Dr. Joanne Baker, program director for the Internal Medicine residency program, who helped coordinate time for Drs. Erskine, Hughes, and Ladzinski to speak with Gutierrez.
Eller also gave a hat-tip to Nabil Ghazal, director for Clinical Research Operations, and leaders from WMed Health – Linda Iwan, Keith Kenter, Naren Kumar, Kelli Peters, Chris Sickles, and Michele Serbenski. She also said a special thank you was owed to Dr. Richard Lammers and Mark Williams, who worked with Simulation Center team members Connie Worline, Amanda Hojnacki, Marisa DeGroot, Shelby Earl, Jon James, Nayah Wiley, Holly Ervin, and Caitlyn Ankli, who set up the Virtual Hospital at the last minute for the on-camera interviews.
“It was a busy two days preparing for this visit and everyone went above and beyond to represent what a terrific place WMed is to train and to work,” Eller said. “It is truly amazing how WMed comes together in such a terrific way.”
If you didn’t get a chance to see the segment that aired on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on December 10, watch more at https://nbcnews.to/345MtyG.