We are all in this together

Marion Leary
12 min readApr 26, 2020

As the COVID19 pandemic began, like many other non-clinical nurses, I felt great moral distress not being on the frontlines, feeling like I wasn’t contributing in a truly meaningful way. But also like so many other non-clinical providers, I was (and still am) contributing, just in different ways.

I truly feel it is important to show the world the variety of ways in which nurses — and other practitioners — are contributing to the work of flattening the curve, spreading responsible public health information, and helping to protect our frontline providers and workers during this pandemic, because the work my non-clinical colleagues are doing is nothing short of incredible. In just 6 weeks (6 weeks people!), here is what I have been up to, in collaboration with a multitude of other dedicated nurses, public health practitioners, and other interdisciplinary students and colleagues from across the country (and some from around the world). They inspire me everyday and I hope they inspire you too!

Get Them PPE

As a founding member, and on the board of directors of the Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Leaders (SONSIEL), I have had the honor to work tirelessly with a badass board of rebel nurses who have been pushing for individuals, organizations, and companies to #SharePPE since the very beginning of this pandemic. SONSIEL was one of the first organizations to put out an organized call nationally for PPE, thanks to the dedicated leadership of SONSIEL founder and president, Rebecca Love! I am so appreciative of the nursing leadership this organization has show during this crisis!

In the time since our first call-to-action on March 17th, SONSIEL has rallied the nation and helped facilitate donations, and purchased, over 100,000 pieces of PPE which were sent to hospitals and providers around the country. These donations included over 23,300 KN95 and N95 masks. Additionally, SONSIEL, in partnership with GLOGood, has raised close to $100,000 to purchase more KN95 masks for hotspot hospitals as there is still great urgency to #GetThemPPE. Please consider donating to our fundraising campaign on GoFundMe: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/sonsielxglogood

Ive also done my part to help pick up and distribute #PPE locally. I will continue to keep calling for donations as long as needed! Thank you to everyone in the Philadelphia and South Jersey region who have donated!

Another important fundraiser being led by my nurse colleague Dawn Feldthouse, MSN RN-BC focuses on the fight against #COVID19 in epicenter of the pandemic in the US, New York City. Currently they have raised close to $30,000 which will be used to help care for patients at major NYC locations, as well as establishing an employee relief fund and to help with research to improve testing. If you can give, please do: nyulangone.org/give/fightcovid.

Donate to the Fight Against COVID19

Virtual Meetups

Like many of you, I’ve been regularly checking in with family, friends, and colleagues as we all #stayhome, and that is no different for my #NurseTwitter family as well. I’ve set up virtual meetups so that we can all just check-in with each other, and support each other however needed. The first one was with a small group of friends and colleagues, the second and third were a bit larger, co-hosted with my SONSIEL board member colleagues Nancy Nager and Rebecca Love. We had no idea what to expect, but over 75+ nurses from SONSIEL joined! These nurses spent an hour sharing their stories from the #frontlines, as well sharing ideas and resources, connecting with each other in ways we all hadn’t anticipated. I leave every time with my heart and soul full, looking forward to the next one. And since the meetups have been such a huge success, there will now be multiple next ones, as SONSIEL will be hosting a Virtual Nurse Meetup every Thursday from 6–7p EST through May 7th, AND they are open to all nurses regardless of membership. If you are interested, sign-up each week, here to receive the Zoom link.


Nurse Hack for Health: COVID19

Innovation breeds in times like these, and so it is my honor to be working along side innovative leaders like Molly McCarthy from Microsoft, Lynda Benton from Johnson & Johnson and Rebecca Love from SONSIEL. Together, with multiple colleagues from each organization (including my Penn colleague Cameron Cook), we are organizing the Nurse Hack for Health: Covid19 virtual hackathon.

The event, which is open to the public, will focus on actionable technology solutions to problems providers are seeing in both the acute care and home care settings during this pandemic. The virtual hackathon will take place on Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19th. Registration is free and we want nurses, designers, engineers, public health practitioners, librarians, other clinicians, and anyone interested to participate!

Nurse Hack for Health: COVID19 Virtual Hackathon

Using your voice

I am fortunate to have a voice across many disciplines and on many platforms, and having a voice means using it on every platform available! As a co-host and producer of the Penn Nursing #AmplifyNursing podcast, along with my colleague Dr. Angelarosa DiDonato, we have been able to provide a platform for experts in the fields of nursing and public health to use their voices as well, to get out timely and relevant information on topics related to the coronavirus pandemic (see below). These episodes highlight the incredible work our brilliant nursing and public health colleagues are also doing “behind the scenes” and at the bedside to support patients, families, and all communities during this pandemic. I highly recommend you take a listen!

Other nursing podcasts have also been dropping knowledge around the coronavirus pandemic, including the Johnson & Johnson and American Nurses Association podcast See You Now, hosted by nurse economist Shawna Butler, the Trusted Health podcast The Handoff, hosted by Dr. Dan Weberg, and The Nurse Keith Show. Check out a full list of #nurseswhopodcast here (if your favorite is missing, please feel free to add it).

In addition to podcasting, I have also been writing (or at least trying to); I wrote a piece on the critical need to protect our frontline providers by getting them PPE, this article was published by Generocity, a local online news agency focusing on social good in Philadelphia. The writing force is strong within the nursing community (shout out to Theresa Brown) and I had a lot of help from colleagues who read the piece in advance and provided guidance, including Beth Toner, and the Relentless School Nurse, Robin Cogan, both of whom are nurse writers, as well as media strategist Barbara Glickstein.

I have also been doing a lot of news interviews to highlight the shortage of PPE, and to promote the SONSIEL #SharePPE program and fundraiser! The news media and journalist community in Philly is bar none, and I am so grateful for all of them who are working hard to report on all of the stories around the coronavirus pandemic, and who are highlighting the needs of our frontline providers and essential workers. A special shout out to my friend Marilyn Russel at WOGL in Philly, Shara Dae Howard at KYW News Radio, as well as local news station 6ABC and Technical.ly PHL for continuing to cover these stories!

Other nurses have been on the news as well, here is a tiny smattering of examples including from my dean of Penn Nursing, Dr. Antonio Villarruel, my SONSIEL colleague Rebecca Love, Dr. Lisa Campbell, and of course Rep. Lauren Underwood! We need more nurses in the media, speaking up and speaking out!

Providing Nurses Mutual Aid

In these uncertain times, we all need a little support. Which is why I am so honored to be a co-organizer for the Nursing Mutual Aid 2020 Twitter Conference coming up on April 30th. We aim “to support mutual aid, to foster global connections, & to amplify new & never-before-presented knowledge necessary to nurse the community in the context of the current pandemic, AND from conferences & other events recently canceled by Covid-19.”

As we have seen, since early March, every in-person conference has been cancelled, which led the brilliant Dr. Rachel Walker to propose the idea of a Twitter conference, aiming to give nurses and nursing students a platform to disseminate their research, and experiences, in a new way. I am so grateful to the organizing committee who have worked extremely hard to make this an inclusive space for all to access, and for all to participate.

I hope you can join us on April 30th from 09:00–21:00 EST on Twitter by following along with the hash tag #NMA2020, or by going to our Twitter account: @NrsgMutualAid

#NMA2020 Organizing Committee

Scicomm for the public health good

In the plethora of spare time I’ve had during the coronavirus has started (sound sarcasm), I have also been playing around with multiple science communication tools. There is no shortage of these types of platforms, whether it’s using stop motion and legos to encourage social distancing, TikTok to encourage people to donate PPE, or iMovie to create a public service announcement, all of these different mediums help to tell a story!

Id also like to highlight the mad #scicomm skills of the niece of my #NMA2020 organizing committee colleague, Wanda Montalvo. She has been making us rad videos for our Nursing Mutual Aid Twitter conference — check them out here! #futureradnurse


When it comes to teamwork making the dream work there is no better example of this than the initiatives being led by University of Pennsylvania faculty, staff, and students from Penn Health Tech, Penn Center for Health Care Innovation, Penn Biomedical Library, Penn Medicine, Penn Engineering, and others. This interdisciplinary group has worked tirelessly, 24/7/365, since the very beginning of this pandemic, to produce PPE for our hospital providers. These amazing individuals from across all disciplines at Penn are definitely #whyilovePenn.

Barbara Bernoff Cavanaugh and Varvara Kountouzi of the Penn Biomedical Library

In addition to the Penn Health Tech initiative, I would also like to acknowledge my colleague John Gamba, who is a past Penn Nursing Board of Overseers member and currently the Entrepreneur-in-residence at the Penn Catalyst @GSE (Graduate School of Education). Working with two Penn Alumni and setting up shop at Pennovation Works, they started Project Shields, whose mission is to protect frontline workers by mass-producing personal protective equipment (PPE). They are producing 3,500 face shields per day and will soon reach a total donation of 10,000!

Project Shields

Just recently they assisted in filling face shield requests submitted to SONSIEL’s #SharePPE campaign! Once again highlighting that we are indeed all in this together!

Finally, there are my colleagues at Penn Public Health — faculty, staff, and students who are also working tirelessly to assist our great city with contract tracing and monitoring at an institutional level, and to assist with public health communications. With more than 100 volunteers, again from across all disciplines at Penn (including but not limited to Penn Nursing, Penn Social Work, and Penn Public Health), these individuals are taking it upon themselves to keep us all safe! I couldn’t be more proud to be a Penn MPH alumni because of all of them!

Dr. Carolyn Cannuscio Penn Public Health

None of us can get through this alone, and the good thing is, we don’t have to! Even though we are not in the hospitals, at the bedside, at testing centers, in nursing homes, or in other health and healthcare settings treating patients, we are working to protect, educate, and give voice to everyone who needs it! #weareallinthistogether



Marion Leary

Science geek. Passionate abt Philly, resuscitation, social media, scicomm, innovation, art, & helping others. http://marionleary.strikingly.com