Adapting to change: Employees share their stories

When COVID-19 arrived in our community, two employees quickly recognized they were in unique positions to help.

As UI Health Care adjusted to changes caused by the impact of COVID-19, Jacque Meierotto, program coordinator for the Department of Pediatrics, knew her work responsibilities were going to start looking different. She quickly realized her abilities could be best utilized elsewhere.

Jacque Meierotto, program coordinator for the Department of Pediatrics

Jacque Meierotto, program coordinator for the Department of Pediatrics

“I saw that my workload was probably going to be decreased quite a bit, and I knew the hospital was going to have other needs,” says Meierotto. “I spoke up and volunteered my help.”

Meierotto’s offer of help was accepted, and she was soon sent to work at the staging center, where she and her colleagues handle the logistical side of personnel, resources, and scheduling.

“When hospital staff are reassigned to help in other areas they first come to the staging center,” she explains. “We tell them where to go and help educate them on what they’re doing that day.”

Adjusting to change

While she’s been forced to overcome many obstacles in her new position, Meierotto says none has been more challenging than the constant change.

“There’s just so much change due to the fluidity of the situation. Once you think you have a process in place and you think everything is going smoothly, it changes,” she says. “It’s just about communicating and helping the staff understand what the changes are and why they were made to ensure everyone’s on the same page.”

Meierotto emphasizes that the pandemic—or rather, our staff’s response to it—is also a great source of inspiration.

“From the beginning, I knew I was in the right place,” she says. “Everyone is so willing to dedicate any extra time they have. People come in during the middle of the night. People work additional hours after their normal shifts. Everyone there is just trying to help in any and every way they can.”

Asked to redeploy

For Jay Freund, RN, BSN, his normal duties in the Acute Pain Clinic have been supplemented by his willingness to volunteer as a screener.

Jay Freund, RN, BSN, known as “Mr. Happy,” strives to make those around him smile.

“Our numbers really slowed up in the OR and across the hospital so, instead of just sitting around, I wanted to help in any way I could,” says Freund. “I went to my manager and asked if it was possible to be redeployed.”

Jay Freund’s redeployment has brought him more than just a new temporary position as a screener; it’s brought him a new nickname.

Making others smile

Dubbed “Mr. Happy” by his colleagues, Freund’s role has allowed him to do what he arguably does best: make others smile.

“Last fall I had a health scare and I didn’t think I’d see tomorrow come,” says Freund. “Now, I have a different outlook on life than most people. I like to make others smile, make them feel like they’re valued, and make their day better than when they first walked in.”

If you asked Freund’s colleagues, they’d say he’s done just that. However, the real mystery is where “Mr. Happy” draws his enthusiasm from.

“Everyone asks me how I have so much energy, and I just don’t know,” says Freund. “It’s just who I am. I’m fiercely proud of the atmosphere across UI Health Care these several weeks. I’m happy to be here.”

16 comments

  1. I can attest that Jay Freund does what he does best EVERYDAY, regardless of any chaos brought on by the world and his surroundings. We are all fortunate to be benefactors of his positive energy, and uplifting smile on a daily basis. He brings out both a smile and the best in others.

  2. Jay is indeed ‘Mr. Happy’. No matter how your day is going, Jay will give you a bolus dose of happiness to lift your spirit when you cross him in the hallway.

  3. Everytime we pass Jay in the hallways, he always has a big smile and something positive to say to us to brighten our day! We really appreciate your positive attitude, its contagious!!:)

  4. I have had the opportunity to work with both of these amazing people. They truly are an asset to our family!

  5. I worked with jay a couple times on the Labor Pool and he made those shifts so much more enjoyable. He had the whole shift team smiling and got some laughs out of the patients. Miss working with you Jay 🙂

  6. A big thanks to Jacque for taking the bull by the horn and recognizing her abilities could be turned into something greater at this time. We appreciate you!!

  7. If I could be half the amazing person Jacque is to work with and be around, my nursing career here at the University would be fulfilled.

    • Jay, you are such a wonderful person!! Always know how to put a smile on everyone’s faces!! So glad I have gotten the opportunity to work with you!!

  8. I have had the honor of working with Jay for many years now. He is the most genuinely nice person I have ever met. His amount of energy is unparalleled. I wish I could wake up every day and have the same positive attitude that Jay has. UIHC, please give this man a pay raise; not only does he do an excellent job, he inspires all those around him to do a better job as well!

  9. When I volunteered my time and I saw Jay was working I instantly knew it was going to be a good shift!! Thanks Jay for all you Do

  10. I am an employee of UIHC and my mother had surgery before all the COVID-19 restrictions began. Jay was my mother’s nurse before her surgery and he put a smile on her face and was so kind and comforting to her and our family members. He was a ray of sunshine on a very scary day for all of us. I sincerely appreciate his positivity, his bedside manner, and his jokes that brightened my mother’s day before she had surgery. Thank you Jay and thank you for making UIHC better each day.

  11. I have known Jay since we were 5 years old, in Kindergarten together! He has ALWAYS been happy and has tons of energy! I remember him in class in high school, and he wouldn’t just walk back to his seat, he seemed to have a skip in his feet! He always has done his best work in everything his does!

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