Three honored as Champions of Humanistic Care

by Nebraska Medicine | May 13, 2021

Image with caption: From left, Theresa

From left, Theresa "Woody" Woodrum, Kelly Cawcutt, MD, and Jodi Garrett

It's a challenge to try and quantify the experience of our health care team this past year. They've been described as fearless, courageous and heroic as they showed up to work each day to care for our patients during the COVID-19 crisis.

Large or small, each made a contribution. Recently, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation invited Nebraska Medicine to recognize three individuals as Champions of Humanistic Care: a physician, a nurse and a health care team member.

Physician honoree: Kelly Cawcutt, MD, associate medical director, infection control and epidemiology at Nebraska Medicine; assistant professor, UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases and Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine; co-director of digital innovation and social media strategy for the division of infectious diseases

Virtual gala set for June 10

"I had the honor of contacting Dr. Cawcutt, Theresa and Jodi to notify them they had been nominated by colleagues and selected by leadership for this recognition," said Cory Shaw, executive vice president-chief operating officer at Nebraska Medicine. "Their first impulse was to deflect attention from their personal work and highlight the contribution of all clinical and support teams over the past 15 months; further confirming they are excellent choices to represent our health system."

The three nominees will be honored at a virtual gala on June 10. You can see all the nominees here.

"Because of Dr. Cawcutt's unique qualifications and experience, she was the perfect person to guide Nebraska Medicine through what may prove to be the most challenging period that we will face during our lifetime -- the COVID-19 pandemic," said Mark Rupp, MD, medical director, infection control and epidemiology at Nebraska Medicine and chief of the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases. "She combined all of her knowledge and skills to assist our patients, our hospital, and our community, working courageously during this desperate time of need. Dr. Cawcutt and her critical care team cared for seriously ill patients -- delivering compassionate, lifesaving care at a time of widespread fear. Because of her broad knowledge of infectious diseases, infection control, critical care, and procedural medicine, she was able to serve as a bridge between various services and help craft the policies and procedures that allowed Nebraska Medicine to deliver safe patient care and serve as an example both locally and nationally."

"We all were plagued with fear and anxiety of the unknown, the uncertain reliability of necessary resources, and the burdens of grief for those already lost too soon," says Dr. Cawcutt. "This level of distress, combined with a deep desire to alleviate this for us all, was my quintessential lesson in compassion and humanity. In response, I extended beyond individual patient care, and focused heavily on helping create education, policies, and practices to help my colleagues provide their own compassionate care, with the confidence that they would not become the next patient. I learned that compassion and humanity in medicine were no longer about each patient I engage with, but each person."

Nurse honoree: Theresa "Woody" Woodrum, director, Acute Care Specialty Units

"Woody has always been a passionate advocate for both patients and staff in the delivery of comprehensive care," said Julie Lazure, vice president, operations at Nebraska Medicine. "This took on new meaning when she volunteered to lead inpatient care of our patients who had COVID-19 or were suspected of the infection. No education or training adequately prepared Woody to manage this crisis but she embraced the challenge with a commitment to keep our patients, their loved ones, nurses, support staff, and many others safe, informed, and equipped to deal with the daily unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic."

"Woody's ability to view the struggles of caring for COVID-19 patients as an opportunity to redefine teamwork in the midst of incredible stress, implement creative care solutions, and keep our promise to deliver extraordinary care at the fore front of our response to COVID-19 care set the benchmark for others to follow," said Theresa Franco, vice president, operations.

"We came together as a health care team to provide Serious Medicine Extraordinary Care for all of our patients," Woodrum said. "Our team worked tirelessly to calm the fears of our patients, families and our staff. We collaborated on processes, protocols, and policies to provide the safest care possible. We treated each patient as a member of our family. The families put their trust in us as we worked together to provide compassionate care for their loved ones."

Health care team member honoree: Jodi Garrett, laboratory director, Clinical Laboratory

"At the beginning of the pandemic, clinical services for individuals needing to be tested for COVID-19 were collapsing due to an inadequate supply chain," said Steven Hinrichs, MD, director, microbiology and virology at Nebraska Medicine and chair of the UNMC Department of Pathology and Microbiology. "Jodi developed a comprehensive strategic plan and brought together company representatives, laboratory personnel and physicians to provide novel solutions to each of the challenges. Jodi could have been content to address the local need for our own patients but pushed the system to also address the need within rural and urban disadvantaged populations who otherwise would not have been provided care for COVID related diseases. It was with great pride that we saw our organization respond to the extreme need and while all members of the team contributed to the challenge, it was the leadership of Jodi Garrett that brought all the pieces together and made the success possible when failure was not an acceptable option."

"I'm honored to be nominated and consider it recognition of the entire laboratory team at Nebraska Medicine, who showed up every day during the pandemic to provide the highest quality testing and services," Garrett said. "My leadership vision of 'every specimen is my patient', helped me stay energized and focused throughout the pandemic, as the laboratory implemented innovative solutions to meet the needs of our staff, our patients and our community."

Dr. Dale E. Clark
May 14, 2021 at 4:54 PM

Being a graduate from UNMC this really makes me proud. Thank you for your caring spirits,

Beth Beam
May 13, 2021 at 9:05 AM

Congratulations all. Your long days are appreciated.