When Mass General Brigham needed someone with the expertise to oversee its largest coronavirus-focused facilities during the past year, they called on Dr. Jeanette Ives Erickson.
Ives Erickson, DNP ’11, chair of the Board of Trustees at MGH Institute of Health Professions and chief nurse emerita at Massachusetts General Hospital, helped organize and is running (along with colleague Kevin Schlike) the MGB COVID-19 vaccination center at the health system’s Somerville headquarters. Since March, her team of nurses, administrative staff, and other health care workers – including MGH Institute nursing students and faculty members – have vaccinated more than 30,000 patients.
This is the second MGB facility Ives Erickson has overseen during the pandemic. Last spring, she organized and ran with Jack Hammond, Michael Allard, and Giles Boland the Boston Hope field hospital at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center, which cared for more than 700 non-acute COVID-19 patients.
Having held the top nursing position at Mass General for over two decades before retiring a few years ago, Ives Erickson did not hesitate when MGB asked her to jump into the midst of the world’s deadliest medical crisis in more than a century.
“This is the public health crisis of our lifetime, so as a nurse, I knew I wanted to be part of the solution,” she said recently, standing inside converted conference rooms filled with patients receiving their immunization shot. “I have been honored to work in the fight against the coronavirus.”
Her work has not gone unnoticed outside Mass General Brigham. In March, she was the only nurse recognized among several physicians and CEOs in a Boston Globe feature about female trailblazers in health care during the pandemic.
“Watching the IHP students has been rewarding.”
Ives Erickson is not content with being a behind-the-scenes administrator. During her standard 12-hour days at the vaccination site, she regularly circulates between the registration desk and the vaccination area, greeting arriving patients and observing nurses and students giving shots to the more than 1,400 patients who arrive daily – a number that could double in the coming weeks as more vaccine doses become available.
“Watching the IHP students has been rewarding,” Ives Erickson said on a recent afternoon, after talking with BSN student Midgi Cadet and Alyssa Rizzini, BSN ’19, who were paired for the day. “We are giving them a varied experience, including counseling patients regarding vaccine safety, providing support to people who have been isolated over the course of the past year, and developing the skills needed to vaccinate and to observe patients post-vaccination.”
BSN student Danielle Espinosa was wheeling a vaccination cart between rows of chairs when she stopped next to a female patient. Under the supervision of faculty member Patricia Pierce, Espinosa began asking a series of required questions and explained how the procedure would go. After injecting the patient’s arm and putting on an adhesive bandage, Espinosa said, “I’m doing this because I wanted to be part of history.”
In the adjacent row was Ming-Tai Kuo. Unlike some of his fellow students, this was his first day working at the center, and he relished the opportunity. “Not every patient in a hospital needs to get a shot, so this is great experience,” he said.
As the day came to a close, Ives Erickson finally had a chance to sit down and tackle the paperwork that awaited her. Looking up to see one of the last patients walk out of the building, she said, “It’s good to see them leave with a shot in their arm and a smile on their face. We are on the road to hope.”