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Whitties Talk About Life on the Front Lines of COVID-19

By Savannah Tranchell

When nurse practitioner Carolyn Korfiatis ’05 gets to work at her small rural hospital in Mammoth Lake, California, she goes through “the car wash.”

Created out of polyethylene plastic sheeting, the military-style decontamination chambers take Korfiatis and her colleagues through a series of rooms where they remove their street clothes, decontaminate, and suit up for their shift.

And then at the end of the day, it reverses — hospital-issued scrubs come off, hand-washing and sterilizing begins, and street clothes come back on. 

In San Diego, California, another Whitman alum, emergency room resident Dr. Jessica Brice ’11 starts and ends her days in the emergency room in a similar fashion: An N95 mask and goggles, gloves and gown separate her from her patients. She covers her hair with a scrub cap. Her hospital clothes never leave the facility, and she removes her street clothes completely before entering the home she shares with her fiance— heading straight to the shower before touching anything.

That’s what Dr. Mike Minckler ’09 does too. Minckler is the medical director of ER at Providence St. Mary’s Medical Center in Walla Walla, Washington, and he now has dedicated shoes that he only wears to work, as well as a dedicated shower area when he gets home.

Jamie Kuttler ’06, a physician assistant in Salt Lake City, Utah, wears a power air purifying respirator — PAPR for short. The large hoods that recirculate and filter the air look like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie.

Watch the video to hear more about what life on the front lines is like for Whitties working in health care.

Published on Jun 12, 2020
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