Doctors, nurses and other care providers are on the front line during this COVID-19 pandemic, saving lives and preventing spread.

But a deep, talented field of Novant Health team members also is doing its part – away from the limelight – to support those front-line efforts. They’re the unsung heroes, grateful to do what they can to help maintain a level of care that’s vital.

Here are some of their stories: 

'The nurse at the door'

Rayvon Mitchell, a certified nursing assistant, is not letting the coronavirus stop him from welcoming patients to the Novant Health Derrick L. Davis Cancer Center in Winston-Salem. For the last five years, Mitchell has worked as a curbside assistant, greeting patients and their families with a hug, high-five and cheerful grin.

“I call myself the nurse at the door,” he said. “I do it because of my love and passion for people. I’ve decided that everything I do now will be for the glory of God and I want to honor him with the way I love on others.”

And despite recent anxiety surrounding the coronavirus, Mitchell says that his patients still need to have their regular cancer treatments. To better protect these patients, new safety precautions including social distancing and temperature checks have been put in place at the cancer center.

“That’s why my wife and I made this sign: ‘Corona made me stop hugging you, but God knows I still love you.’ he said. “I still want people to feel loved and cared for. And I want them to know that they are not fighting alone.”

`Safety first’ remains a priority

They are the eyes of Novant Health. Public safety officers’ duties haven’t changed drastically during the coronavirus outbreak, but their vigilance has intensified.

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Novant Health security guards (from left) Chapell Wilks, Roddy White, Sean Colston and Dawan Nolton

“We have more hard (stationary) posts than usual,” said officer Roddy White, standing a few yards from the temporary tents outside Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, with fellow officers Sean Colston and Dawan Nolton. “We’re stationed here, for instance, to make sure visitors don’t give our team members a hard time checking in. It’s been frustrating for some, but the majority get it. They understand.”

Everyone on the Novant Health team, he said, just wants to do the right thing.

“I think it’s everyone working together with the new policies and all the changes we’re going through,” he said. “All the employees are working well together.”

And, for the squad whose duty is keeping things safe, they’re also mindful of their own well-being.

“You have to be more cautious, more careful,” Colston said. “We don’t want to take anything (dangerous) home to our families.”

Making shields throughout the night

James Capozzi, for a handful of recent nights, set an alarm to go off every two hours. That’s how long it takes for his 3-D printer to produce a protective face shield. He’d wake, finalize a shield, then nap until the next one was finished.

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James Capozzi

“It was like having a newborn again,” laughed Capozzi, a Novant Health senior multimedia specialist.

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A finished shield

He’s making the shields at home to donate to team members treating coronavirus patients. Capozzi received the printer as a Christmas gift two years ago, and has used it for several money-saving home projects. As coronavirus concerns heightened, Capozzi found a template online, improved it some and launched the printer.

“I have so many friends in the medical field, and they’re doing everything they can to help us,” Capozzi said. “I wanted to give back to them the most that I could to help them.”

Transporters remain aware

Scott Wright drives a very recognizable vehicle. It’s an aubergine Novant Health critical care transport truck.

“There are two RNs (registered nurses) in the back and an EMT (emergency medical technician) as the driver, which is me,” Wright said.

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Novant Health EMT driver Scott Wright

Wright’s transport vehicle was parked in a bay next to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, drying after a full decontamination inside and out. That truck is the lone one dedicated for use with COVID-19 patients, to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

“Rely on your training,” said Wright, who also works as a Charlotte firefighter. “Take a little extra time, don’t get in a rush. Use your supplies and the PPE (personal protective equipment) you’ve been given to minimize your risk. I saw it somewhere the other day to ‘Be aware but not scared.’ It makes sense for me. We want to be cautious and not take anything home.”

Novant Health team members are on the front lines in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Novant Health Foundation has established a new fund dedicated to supporting our teams, as well as the overall response to the pandemic. Contributions will support team members and help fund testing and medication to support patient care, as well as medical supplies. To donate, click here.

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