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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

We Find Our Strength Through Teamwork

March 22nd, 2021

Among all of our core values, I believe it is through teamwork that we discover and show our true strength. When we work together, we can really make the difference.

During this month, I, like many of you, have been reflecting on this past year, and behind every personal memory or story that others have told, has been another example of true teamwork.

There were the big events of course, that involved hundreds of people who used quick ingenuity to respond to our COVID-19 challenges. So many groups came together to convert our regular patient rooms to COVID-ready, negative pressure spaces. Soon after, employees from many functional areas were busy activating the RICU in record time. Those on the front line and behind the scenes worked tirelessly for our patients, while others looked for creative solutions to problems. For example, a team of researchers figured out how to recycle critical PPE equipment, and pharmacy students developed hand sanitizer.  Through it all, we leaned on each other, realizing that it was the  small gestures that mattered.

Of course, the pandemic continues and strong collaborative work is evident today among the 75+ core team members who joined together with nurses, technicians and volunteers to distribute and administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Their obstacles have been many, including inconsistent timing and quantities of product received, but they have managed to administer every dose as quickly, safely and equitably as possible. Considering the political climate and the frustration often felt by the community, these team members do their work with little recognition, so if you have the opportunity, please thank a member of the team for their service to our organization and community.

Examples of our teamwork extended far beyond COVID-19 this past year, as we continue our mission to advance health for Michigan and the world. Some of the stories I’ll never forget include: one team’s innovative approach to a pregnant woman’s tongue cancer, the amazing collaboration it took to separate conjoined twins at Mott, and heartwarming stories that show how much we reach out to the community and our patients, such as the  poinsettias we give to every adult hospital patient every Christmas. Thanks to all of you. 

I find stories about collaboration every day in my various work activities and interactions with colleagues. Here are a few that brightened my day recently: 

  • A pharmacy team braved bad roads to come to work to find a backlog of work that needed immediate attention, with no manager yet on duty. They quickly and efficiently came up with a plan to cover essential functions and ensure great patient care until management could arrive to reassess.
  • Renee Basnakis Hartl, a house officer and fellow in Otolaryngology, saw that the nursing staff was shorthanded, so she joined them in prepping the OR for surgery.
  • Joseph Norman, MD, internal medicine, got a shout out from the nursing staff for always treating them with respect, including stepping in and responding to patients’ call lights when needed.
  • The Otorhinolaryngology Department called out administrative assistants Marlon Frazier and Sonya Fritz for being extraordinarily industrious and professional in scheduling difficult logistics due to innumerable changes amid the “new normal” and much uncertainty.
  • We can’t forget the large groups of researchers, assisted by medical students and fellows, who supported the many clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines over these past months.

One of the best things about Michigan Medicine is the undying spirit of teamwork and collaboration that we see and feel every day. It really is about the team, the team, the team. 

What are your favorite stories about teamwork?  Share them in the discussion box below.


  • Kristina Martin

    My favorite story was how staff from across a variety of labs, including research, stepped up to help aliquot COVID specimens for patient testing. In addition, others helped early on with the manual transport of specimens from the RICU to the laboratory. I’m hopeful that these interactions across disciplines will help with future collaborations.

    • Marschall Runge

      It’s been my experience, Kristina, that these examples of teamwork build personal and professional relationships which inspires deeper collaboration across our organization. I believe it only helps us to become a more aligned, supportive organization in the future. Thank you for sharing your story.

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