University of St. Thomas Magazine COVID-19 Special Edition

tommie network

a medical first responder during this pandemic has added stress. I worry – what can I do to ensure I don’t get sick? Ensure I don’t bring it home and get my family sick?” Ford is grateful to be able to help others during this time, even amid all of the uncertainty. “I’m proud to be able to help our community and my neighbors.We’ll get through this.”

Since then, hundreds of people have volunteered to help. The on-site volunteers cut the fabric andmake kits for others to take home and sew into gowns. Volunteer drivers are helping with delivery and pickup of finished gowns. “It’s been pretty overwhelming. So many people are willing to help,” Monahan said. “We are gearing up to make about 2,000 gowns a day. I don’t know what they’d be using without them.” Learn more at

dengue and other mosquito-borne illnesses as they transition into Puerto Rico’s rainy season. “I feel fortunate to contribute to pandemic response, supporting the broad range of folks actively working in public health, while also supporting the truly essential workers in warehouses, factories, fields and grocery stores,” Volkman said.

John Monahan ’73: The Retired Entrepreneur “It started with an email from Lucie

Phil Steger ’13 J.D.: The Distillery Owner “It’s definitely not our typical single-

Hannah Volkman ’14: The

Public Health Expert

Arnaz,” said John Monahan ’73, a retired businessman. (Yes, THAT Lucie Arnaz!) “She sent out an email to some friends and acquaintances, after hearing from a local physician friend about the shortages in personal protective equipment. I responded asking, ‘what can I do?’ That’s how it all started.” He rallied his network of friends and colleagues, and they wrote a business plan to create and distribute protective gowns, the itemmost needed by medical professionals at Eisenhower Health (a nonprofit hospital system serving the Coachella Valley in southern California). “We built a website so people could get involved,” Monahan said. “I offered to set up headquarters at my building in Palm Springs. A doctor at Eisenhower gave us a sample of a gown, and a friend of mine in the fashion industry created a pattern.”

malt whiskey, but it’s what our community needs right now,”

Hannah Volkman ’14

said Phil Steger ’13 J.D., owner of Brother Justus Whiskey. The Brother Justus team startedmaking hand sanitizer in March to support the most vulnerable, many of whom are living and working in homeless shelters. The team shut down its entire operation and focused all their efforts on making and delivering hand sanitizer, but Steger quickly saw that the need was far beyond his company’s capacity. “I learned that Tattersall Distilling and DuNord Craft Spirits had the exact same goals as we did,” said Steger. “Working together, we can manufacture hand sanitizer by the tankerful — 8,125 gallons at a time.” They offloaded the first tanker in April, and they will continue delivering hand sanitizer each week to places in need. Learn more at

is an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When she accepted her new job and moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in January, she couldn’t have known what would happen next. “Just about when I settled in, the quarantine began andmy professional and personal life transformed overnight,” said Volkman. “I have been involved in many outbreaks in the past and the work is always so collaborative and interactive, so it feels very different to be working on such a consequential pandemic while we are all remote.” She is contributing to epidemiologic surveillance of trends in respiratory illnesses and contact tracing process development. This, all while remaining focused on her original assignment to prevent and control

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