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Grizzlies in scrubs rise to the occasion.
During the global pandemic, health care workers have emerged as our nation’s heroes. Some of those brave souls, of course, also happen to be Grizzlies – like Meredith ’13 and Jason Barba ’13, whom life has called to New York City.
The Barbas met as Park n’ Dash bus drivers at UM, where Meredith earned a health and human performance degree, and Jason received a human biology degree.
After graduating, both Barbas became EMTs and worked for the Frenchtown Rural Fire Department before continuing to the University of North Dakota – Meredith for nursing and Jason for medical school.
This March, in a process known as “The Match” for all fourth-year medical students in the country, Jason was matched to a residency program at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City – just as NYC became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Learning that I’d matched to a top-tier program like Mount Sinai was truly a dream come true,” Jason says. “Getting a chance to train and learn from some of the big names in the field is a great opportunity.”
But the move to NYC during the pandemic has had its challenges.
For the Barbas, the isolation has been hard, with no groups and activities meeting, and family and friends unable to visit. Without cars, in-building laundry and grocery convenience, they have had to make major adjustments – all while taking care of a months-old little one.
“They aren’t kidding when they say “it takes a village” to raise a child, so when you eliminate that village, it’s hard,” Meredith says. “Thankfully, there’s FaceTime to stay connected with friends and family who are on the other side of the country!”
Currently, Meredith stays home with daughter Cassie, while Jason works as an emergency medicine resident physician intern in his first of four years, primarily working in the ER and spending time in orthopedics, the ICU, OB and more.
“One of the challenges I’ve faced in NYC hospitals is language barriers,” Jason says. “I train at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens (the main trauma hospital), and the area is thought to be the most diverse community in the world. So something as simple as communication can become quite the hurdle if a language interpreter isn’t available.”
What advice do the Barbas have for people working in health care?
“Find your people! Or your thing,” Meredith says. “It’s such a weird time right now, that it’s easy to lose yourself in the chaos. But taking the time for coffee, happy hour, mani/pedi, a run, whatever it may be, makes such a difference!”
Note: Special thanks to the Barbas, who found time in between patients, on the subway and among juggling childcare to share their story with the Montanan.
Keep us posted! Send your news to the University of Montana Alumni Association, Brantly Hall, Missoula, MT 59812. Go to www.grizalum.com and click on “Submit a Class Note,” email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-877-UM-ALUMS (877-862-5867). Material in this issue reached our office by Aug. 9, 2019.