Maryland ACC CV Team Leaders Step Up to the COVID-19 Vaccine Challenge

Cardiology Magazine

In March 2020, the employee health team at Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, MD, needed clinical and administrative leadership support to ensure they could keep staff as safe as possible in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. They tapped two of the hospital's most highly respected professionals, Neleen B. Orsal, NP, heart failure center nurse practitioner, and Arif Khazi, MS, cardiac rehabilitation exercise physiologist, to step in.

Orsal and Khazi, both members of the Maryland ACC CV Team Leadership Council, wowed the executive team with their creativity, flexibility and ability to lead a team that needed to pivot almost daily to take on new challenges. When the time came in late December 2020 to marshal forces to begin the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Orsal and Khazi again stepped up to meet the challenge.

Under their leadership, the hospital quickly got first doses in the arms of most front line workers before Christmas and were the first vaccination clinic in the area to give doses to first responders. "When I heard the Baltimore City Police Department hadn't been able to get vaccinated yet, it was really a no-brainer. Bring them here!" Khazi said. To staff the efforts of the clinic, Orsal and Khazi have recruited numerous volunteers willing to work above and beyond their regular shifts to ensure their colleagues and community members are getting vaccinated. In the words of one volunteer, "I'll do whatever these two ask. Their hard work inspires me every day."

This article was authored by Jae Patton, MSN, CRNP, AACC, ACC CV Team State Liaisons Steering Committee, Maryland Region 6 director.