MOSES Members on the Frontlines

Along with the heroic work of our healthcare workers fighting the COVID pandemic are an army of professionals in the Department of Public Health (DPH) who are truly the unsung heroes in this war against the virus. Microbiologists, epidemiologists, laboratory technicians, and chemists were all called to the frontline on day one to play a key role to combat this deadly disease. Now is the time to acknowledge these public servants fighting the coronavirus at the State Public Health Lab. Laboratory staff were the first to take over Covid testing from the CDC in early March. They have been working extended hours 24/7 nonstop, stretching the State Lab to its limit to detect the presence of the virus in Massachusetts residents. Epidemiologists are working with local Boards of Health, hospitals, and nursing homes providing them with important information, accumulating crucial data and tracking the hot spots so the Governor’s task force can make critical decisions needed to battle this pandemic. Below are a couple of profiles of our members on the frontline. These are only a couple of stories revolving around many of our Public Health employees who have been working tirelessly over the last two months. MOSES would like to thank all of our frontline MOSES members that have been working with rigor and grace during these precarious times. It is only through our joint effort that we will be able to get through this and be stronger on the other side. 
Sean Litchman's role during the COVID-19 response is to process and test patient samples.This includes sorting, logging and organizing hundreds of specimens a day while ensuring a smooth operation of the many steps involved. After samples are processed and assigned a tracking number, they move on to get aliquoted in preparation for extraction on one of our robotic extraction platforms. Then, once extracted, the purified sample is loaded onto PCR plates and put on a thermocycler to detect the presence, or lack of COVID-19. His job changes on an hourly basis depending on theneeds of the lab. He could be opening packages of samples one minute, loading extraction plates after that or running autoclaves and stocking supplies. He works with an excellent team of people who are all committed to completing their tasks correctly and efficiently while navigating this challenging environment. They work together like a well-oiled machine, doing whatever it takes, even if it has meant working late nights and not taking any days off for weeks on end.
Cynthia Condon's role with the COVID-19 response is overseeing and coordinating the lab support functions for the COVID testing. This includes Specimen Receiving, Specimen Collection Kit Order Processing and Media Preparation for the testing supplies. This department is essential as Cynthia Condon and her team are the first personnel who handle and receive the specimens from submitters/providers all over the Commonwealth. They receive, sort and distribute to the multiple labs within Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory Services (SPHL) handling the COVID specimens, along with processing our every day non-COVID public health specimens. They also fulfill requests from outside agencies for the specimen collection supplies and kits. Lastly, the staff in this department also assists with providing media for the testing labs/providers, as well as preparing in-house hand sanitizer to meet the demands of the MA SPHL needs and due to the shortage of outside supplies.