Serving Despite the Risk
Raven Medical Professionals on the Frontlines of the Pandemic Fight

Monday, June 22, 2020

Abbot James Albers, OSB blesses the hands of Nursing graduates during the Nursing Pinning Ceremony.

No one has taken on more personal risk from the COVID-19 pandemic in America than the medical professionals who serve on the front lines in the hospitals and healthcare facilities across the nation. As you would expect from Ravens, many Benedictine College graduates are right there in the trenches, prepared for all that comes their way and more.

Dennis Lawlor, MD ’82, has had a long and distinguished career in leadership. A pulmonary and critical care physician by trade, Dennis served for over 20 years as an officer in the Air Force and Air National Guard. He’s now Chief of Medicine Services for Olathe Health in Olathe, Kansas, which, among other services, operates a 300-bed hospital in the suburbs of Kansas City

Even before the onset of the pandemic in the Midwest, Dennis led the charge to convert his hospital to an effective full-on Intensive Care Unit (ICU). This included locating and recruiting additional ICU nurses, quadrupling the equipment capacity for respiratory issues, pairing veteran doctors with those less experienced to form teams capable of increasing treatment impact and much, much more.

Dennis credits his sense of optimism and faith as the driving forces behind such an intimidating responsibility.

Former Nursing Students Kit Johnson and Molly HuberDennis Lawlor

“This process has really solidified my faith in what people can do together if they keep their fears in check,” said Dennis. “The best decision I made was to not try to solve all the problems by myself. Involving more people always helps create more options for solutions. If you show your faith in people, it’s amazing how much more they can accomplish.”

Faith is always forefront at the Mother Teresa Center for Nursing at Benedictine College. Kit White Johnson, RN ’15, now working on the coronavirus floor at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, recently told The Leaven about the blessing of hands and feet, conducted by Abbot James Albers, OSB ’94, Abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey, which serves as a commission to new nursing graduates.

“He told us we are the hands and feet of Christ,” said Kit, facing the anticipation that everyone she encounters will soon be infected by COVID-19. “You just have to remember that you’re taking care of Christ.”

For Molly Riscoe Huber, RN ’15, it’s the children who inspire her to fight through any fears surrounding this dreaded virus every day. Molly told The Leaven about the signs, handmade by children, that line her walk to her job at Children’s Mercy Hospital, thanking the nurses for their service.

“This is why I’m still coming to work every day,” said Huber. “For these kiddos.” And, ultimately, Molly offers the best advice of all: have faith.

“We have to trust in our medical system and trust in God that he’ll help us through this.”