Schwedhelm to join Rep. Bacon at State of the Union

Shelly Schwedhelm

Shelly Schwedhelm

When the State of the Union address is delivered next week, one of the med center’s own will be in attendance

Shelly Schwedhelm, executive director of emergency preparedness and infectious diseases for Nebraska Medicine, will be the guest of Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02) at the event in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Schwedhelm has more than 40 years of experience and was one of the original staff of the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. Currently, she serves as executive director of emergency management and clinical operations at the UNMC Global Center for Health Security, in addition to numerous other leadership roles in emergency management and biopreparedness

Schwedhelm was active in training health care professionals in treating patients with Ebola in 2014. During the COVID pandemic, she worked tirelessly in helping to train health care facilities across Nebraska and the nation in how to address the viruses and ensure staff and patients alike were safe. 

“Shelly is a star in the health care system and has given much of her time to visit schools, meatpacking plants and other businesses to help them operate safely as essential services,” Rep. Bacon said. “Our nation’s nurses serve on the front lines for our health safety, and I am pleased to have her join me as my guest at the State of the Union.”

Said Schwedhelm, “As a nurse, it is an honor and a privilege to be invited to attend the State of the Union Address with Congressman Bacon. The nursing profession and health care workers have been significantly impacted by the pandemic the past three years and count on our public officials to advocate support for our frontlines as well as other essential workers. There is no greater profession than nursing. The opportunities are endless to impact lives and make a difference every day not only in hospitals and clinics, but in long-term care facilities, community and public health agencies, churches, government, and the list goes on.

“Nurses ranked as the most trusted profession in America for the past two decades. We never stop learning. We are leaders. We drive change and play a pivotal role in the health care system. I can’t imagine having any other career.”

Leaders from UNMC and Nebraska Medicine couldn’t agree more that Schwedhelm is a wonderful representative.

“No one is a better representative of the nursing profession than Shelly Schwedhelm,” said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD. “We’re so appreciative that Congressman Bacon chose Shelly to represent the nursing profession and UNMC and Nebraska Medicine at the State of the Union address. Shelly exemplifies not only the unwavering commitment to the highest quality of patient care but also a dedication to lifelong learning and a true servant’s heart, for the betterment of humankind. Her work to serve Nebraska, our nation and beyond during the pandemic has supported countless health care organizations nationwide and as a result, has saved countless lives.”

Sue Nuss, PhD, chief nursing officer for Nebraska Medicine, said that Schwedhelm’s experience and expertise in emergency preparedness not only assured that Nebraska Medicine was prepared but also many other organizations nationwide.

“I am confident that our success in dealing with the pandemic was in part due to how Shelly prepared us for something of this magnitude,” Dr. Nuss said.

Julie Lazure, vice president of operations for Nebraska Medicine, adds that Schwedhelm isn’t just representing Nebraska Medicine and UNMC. She also is representing 5.3 million nurses in the United States.

“The public witnessed the critical role nurses played during the COVID-19 pandemic and the role we continue to participate in the health care delivery system,” Lazure said.

Schwedhelm and her husband farm in Washington County, raise cattle and are very active in Omaha Rodeo activities. 


  1. Pamela Boyers says:

    This recognition is so well-deserved – – thank you for your incredible contributions.

  2. Terri A Vadovski says:

    This is cool. Have a great time! Congrats

  3. John Hauser says:

    This is a great honor, and no one is more deserving of this opportunity. Shelly has worked tirelessly for the enterprise, our community, the state, and the country. We are all safer because of her work.

  4. Mary Haven says:

    That is absolutely wonderful. I am so glad that you, Nebraska Medicine and UNMC have been recognized.

  5. Jodi Garret says:

    Congratulations Shelly! Well deserved.

  6. Karen Carlson, MD says:

    Such a wonderful person. Glad she is being honored for her blood, sweat, and tears! Congrats!

  7. Peter Iwen says:

    Shelly, what a great honor and well deserved.

  8. Peggy Moore says:

    Bravo Shelly for this well-earned and deserved recognition of your commitment to providing the best care and education!

  9. Mark E Rupp says:

    A terrific recognition for Shelly for the years of service and sacrifice to make NMC, the state of Nebraska, and the nation safer and better prepared. There is nobody better qualified to represent the organization and the nation’s nurses than Shelly Schwedhelm. She makes us proud.

  10. Craig A Piquette says:

    Take a bow, Shelly. Continue your advocacy for public health and safety and enjoy the moment!

  11. Rebecca Anderson says:

    Can’t think of a better person to represent us. Kudos

  12. Sandy Goetzinger-Comer says:

    Congratulations!! A well deserved honor. Thanks for being on the front lines of so many important challenges and opportunities to protect public health.

  13. Tom O’Connor says:

    Way to go, Shelly. You make us proud!

  14. Donna Mahlendorf says:

    Shelly has been a foot soldier, and commander of the Biocontainment center in its very beginning. Thank you for recognizing and honoring a dedicated person of our medical community in NeBraska who has earned this honor!

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