Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-07-08
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



COVID-19 LGBT nursing personnel discuss pandemic experiences
by Matt Simonette

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Thousands of healthcare professionals in Chicago, many of them members of the city's LGBT community, have been thrown into the frontlines of America's struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Tony Amberg, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, healthcare providers have had to struggle with the same uncertainties that the public and community members have all had to struggle with: determining an effective response to a relatively unknown illness.

Service providers, public officials and community members had fallen into a "bubble," Amberg said, wherein medical advancements in the last several decades had enabled vaccinations, treatments and cures for many illnesses.

"We got swayed by the idea that this was a disease that attacks the vulnerable, and that young people were immune," Amberg admitted. "Now we see that this is so not true. It attacks people who are very, very fit and knocks them over, as well as those who are not in good shape."

Erik McIntosh, a nurse practitioner at Rush University Medical Center's department of internal medicine, also noted the randomness with which COVID-19's symptoms were visited upon patients.

"I had a 90-year-old woman who had the coronavirus who had no symptoms," McIntosh recalled. "I remember walking in her room, and she said, 'They say I have this coronavirus, but I feel fine'—and she was fine. I remember thinking: 'How can I have this 90-year-old woman be fine, when I just sent a 49-year-old man to the ICU?'"

McIntosh added, "It was just trying to understand this virus that made it so scary."

Both McIntosh and Amberg said that each of their hospital staffs underwent massive and rapid restructurings as the patient loads began to increase. Amberg said that his entire hospital essentially became an enormous COVID-19 ward.

"The degree to which they have moved around thousands of people, and the degree of change that they've managed, has been extraordinary," he added.

Katherine Orlin, an RN clinical manager with Rush Community Based Practices, said that it took just under two weeks between initial conversations about how to handle the pandemic to opening dedicated facilities for patients.

"The reason for even that delay was just getting an infrastructure in place," Orlin explained. "Then overnight, we got the word: 'We're going to get going' and people started showing up the next day.'"

Orlin's work largely focuses on patients who are experiencing homelessness. She was redeployed to a COVID facility at A Safe Haven, a housing organization, which was operated by Rush and Chicago Department of Public Health.

"The patients were coming from all over Chicago," she said. "…People experiencing homelessness are generally a very marginalized, very underserved population and have a multitude of unmet healthcare needs, way beyond the virus, that they're coming in with."

Media reports about health personnel focus in large partresidual trauma for nurses, physicians and other staff working with COVID patients. Orlin, McIntosh and Amberg all acknowledged the intensity of the work, but said that the nimbleness and endurance of healthcare workers are significant parts of the pandemic's legacy.

"I think this really is a story of resilience," said Amberg. He primarily provides mental-health support for patients in non-psychiatric hospital units. As the pandemic came to the fore, his full-time job became mental-health support for the staff itself. He leads them in breathing exercises before shifts, for example, to help them stay focused and grounded as they see patients.

McIntosh admitted feeling "emboldened" by the cooperation and dedication he saw amongst his colleagues.

"What I have confidence in was the resilience and resolve of the entire medical team—physicians, physical therapists and even our environmental services team," he said. "When a crisis hits, we really come together as a team."

Orlin said the experience allowed her "the unique opportunity to help create a system that helps people who really can use it."

Healthcare providers will remain vigilant for future waves of coronavirus transmissions, Amberg said.

"It looks to me that about 1.1 percent of Cook County and Chicago has already tested positive, which if you think about it, is an enormous number," he explained. "It seems that, at this moment, in every 100 people, there is more than one person already known to be positive. If we play that out, that means that there are a lot of people out there, and that the situation is very ripe for explosion."

McIntosh said, "It's not a matter of 'if,' but 'when.'"

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Instagram excludes harmful conversion therapy groups, Born Perfect applauds 2020-07-10 - MENLO PARK, CA — Instagram announced today that it will exclude content that promotes the harmful practice of conversion therapy — a step ...

Gay News

Lambda Legal asks court to block Trump's HHS anti-LGBTQ health care rule 2020-07-09 - ( Washington, D.C., July 9, 2020 ) — Today, Lambda Legal asked a federal district court to prevent the recently published health care ...

Gay News

GLAAD hosting virtual awards ceremony July 30 2020-07-09 - GLAAD announced that it will host a virtual ceremony for the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards on Thursday, July 30, in place of ...

Gay News

United Nations call for a global ban on conversion therapy, Born Perfect comments 2020-07-08 - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — Today, the United Nations' Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity called ...

Gay News

Supreme Court on religious employers, contraceptive coverage under ACA, NCLR responds 2020-07-08 - WASHINGTON, DC — The Supreme Court issued two important decisions today that significantly change the relationship between freedom of religion and anti-discrimination protections. ...

Gay News

Australian, Irish consulates host LGBTQ+ advocacy panel 2020-07-08 - Sarah Keating, the vice consul general of Chicago's Consulate General of Ireland; and Amanda Slone, the office services manager at the Australian Consulate ...

Gay News

Petition urges Boystown name change 2020-07-08 - An online petition launched late in June is demanding that the "Boystown" neighborhood designation be changed to a term that is more inclusive ...

Gay News

Reproductive health of bisexual women and girls needs greater attention 2020-07-08 - Over 48 million people of reproductive age assigned female sex at birth currently use contraceptives, including up to 3.9 million cisgender sexual minority ...

Gay News

ACTIVITIES Rollin' on the river, courtesy of the Chicago Electric Boat Company 2020-07-08 - Running out of ideas regarding what to do this summer? Well, it turns out there's nothing like going down the river in a ...

Gay News

Center on Halsted selling BLM boards 2020-07-08 - Recently, Center on Halsted reopened—taking down the wooden panels that surrounded the building. The boards were erected as a precaution from the recent ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.