May 10, 2022

Celebrating our extraordinary nurses

We recognize our nurses for their strength and our nurse leaders for creating an environment that empowers our teams to do their best work.

Emily McGarvey, RN, a professional practice consultant for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado, with her children (August, left, and Silas, right) shows off Buzzy Bee, an ice pack with wings, at the child-friendly COVID vaccine clinics she organized in the state of Colorado.

At Kaiser Permanente, our nurses have stayed strong and grounded through a multi-year global pandemic and continued to uphold their professional practice of compassion, excellence, integrity, teamwork, and patient- and family-centered care. Their inner strength and the collective strength of the integrated care team that surrounds them have combined to help carry our organization through a time of adversity and challenge. Our nurse leaders have cultivated an environment of trust and open communication that empowers their teams to do their best work.

We called on some of our nurses across the nation to tell us how they worked through the COVID-19 pandemic and how they find strength in themselves and from their teams. A few of our nurse leaders told us how they enabled their teams to continue delivering high-quality compassionate care during tremendous challenges.

Eric Cathey, RN

Eric Cathey, RN, is the charge nurse in the intensive care unit at Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro, Oregon. Cathey cared for the state’s first patient with COVID-19, the second patient in the nation to be infected with the virus. Cathey remembers seeing a young patient very sick with symptoms the care team couldn’t immediately diagnose. Soon more patients arrived. The patients were so sick that each nurse was assigned to spend 4 hours at a time with just one patient, without any breaks. The situation “went from 0 to 60 very quickly. It was a surreal and scary feeling.”

Kevin Mempin, RN

Kevin A. Mempin, RN, is the lead nurse in orthopedics and podiatry at Gaithersburg Medical Center in Maryland. Mempin was assigned to urgent care during the initial stages of the pandemic. He saw patients with COVID-19 daily at a time when scientists knew very little about the disease. The entire staff was learning on the job, and no one knew how COVID-19 might affect a person. Contact with patients and entry into patient rooms had to be minimized.

Emily McGarvey, RN

Emily McGarvey, RN, professional practice consultant for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado, led the effort to train and organize 9 child-friendly COVID-19 vaccination clinics for ages 5 to 11 in November 2021. These became the first clinics for this age group in the state of Colorado. McGarvey addressed needle anxiety and pain by incorporating Buzzy, a bee-shaped device with ice packs for wings. As the children focus on the cold Buzzy, they forget the pain and sensation of the shot.

Honesto Lucero, RN

Honesto Lucero, RN, is assistant manager in the Medical Telemetry Unit at Kaiser Permanente Antioch Medical Center in Northern California. Lucero and his unit worked at the bedside caring for patients who were critically ill with COVID-19.

Betty Harrill, RN

Betty Harrill, RN, manages 8 nurses at Lynnwood Medical Center in Washington. At the beginning of the pandemic, Harrill volunteered at 2 temporary clinics set up to serve a population of patients who had COVID-19 and no stable housing.

John Masonson, RN

John Masongsong, RN, is director of hospital operations for the Fontana Medical Center in Southern California, where his department serves 1,100 nurses in specialties ranging from Adult Services to Maternal Child Health. Masongsong handled all the logistics — the space, the staff, and the equipment — and the evolving information related to expanding hospital bed capacity to cope with several surges of COVID-19.

Kim Fowler, RN

Kim Fowler, RN, is health services manager at Kaiser Permanente TownPark Comprehensive Medical Center in Georgia. For the last 2 years Fowler and her team of 15 nurses have been testing and treating patients with COVID-19 symptoms, alongside their typical population of elderly patients with chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.