Silver linings playbook

DU alumni find resilience—and even hope—in the midst of a pandemic

THE LOBBYIST: Lisa Ward (MS 20)

Photo by Lexi Elio

While earning her master of science degree in University College’s Health Care Management program, Lisa Ward was working part time as a lead emergency medical technician at Denver Health on the frontlines of a pandemic.

Immediately after wrapping up her final quarter at DU, Ward landed her dream job as a lobbyist for Denver Health, advocating on behalf of health care workers for anything they need. Her new position is more important than ever with the world fighting COVID-19.

“Right now, with a pandemic going on, it’s my responsibility to advocate on behalf of Denver Health for things like PPE for our health care workers,” Ward says. “Being on the front lines really gives me such a unique perspective to the other side of it. When I listen to the incident command center briefings and they talk about PPE, I know what it feels like to wear an N95 [mask] for 12 hours. I understand how difficult this is emotionally for health care providers.”

The transition to a new role on the front lines of a pandemic was especially challenging. That challenge is captured in a personal essay — titled “Out of the Trenches, Into the War” — that Ward shared with the University of Denver Magazine:  

“I can clearly visualize what it feels like to be at the bedside of a patient unable to breathe,” Ward writes. “My ears ring with the sounds of ventilator alarms working to aid an intubated patient. I sympathize with exhausted frontline providers who are caring for critically ill patients while worrying about their own safety. For the first time in my long-standing career, I also know what it looks like to see unprecedented desperation on the faces of sick patients and terror in the eyes of my fearless colleagues.”

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