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2020: Photos that defined our year

From history-making moments during the pandemic to displays of extraordinary personal courage – these are the photos that defined our year at M Health Fairview.

By every definition, 2020 was an unprecedented year.

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, we found new ways to persevere in the face of extraordinary challenges. From a survivor’s grateful song to a world-first transplant to a little bell with a big meaning, the stories, moments, and images that emerged this year have time and again proven that we truly are “Minnesota Mighty” together. Scroll down for the photos that have defined our year at M Health Fairview.

Long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines arrive
Caregivers on the frontlines of COVID-19 cried tears of joy and relief after receiving the first COVID-19 vaccines in mid-December. Since the vaccines’ arrival, thousands of our staff members have been vaccinated, marking a turning point in the pandemic. “I’ve been thinking about this day for a long time,” Hospitalist Andrew Olson, MD, told reporters just after he received his vaccine. Watch more.

COVID-19 survivor reunites with his family
On a brilliant May morning, Patti Huggins stood with her daughter Emily outside the front doors of a rehabilitation center, waiting for her husband Rick. When he finally emerged, escorted out in a wheelchair, there were no words – only tears. It was a dreamlike end to Rick’s 50-day hospitalization for COVID-19. “I’m so happy to be alive,” Rick said. Read more.

A smile behind the PPE
The phrase personal protective equipment (PPE) became a household term early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Though most of her features were covered by protective gear, Registered Nurse Sheila Kingston found a new way to connect with patients by printing out a large photo of her smiling face. Kingston’s efforts represent efforts by caregivers all across our system to continue providing compassionate care, no matter the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic. Read more.

After tragedy, vibrant murals sprang to life
When protests shook Minnesota following the murder of George Floyd, a group of M Health Fairview employees gathered to create an expression of hope and community, one brushstroke at a time. Staff and volunteers painted two murals at M Health Fairview Children’s Clinic – University, which was damaged during the demonstrations. One mural included the caption: “May love be the heart of this town.” Read more.

A community rallies during the pandemic fight
As our care providers faced the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic, we were overwhelmed by generous offers of support from the community. Local businesses and groups provided thousands of meals to frontline staff, delivered free coffee, created uplifting chalk art, raised banners at our hospitals, and donated PPE to keep our care teams safe. Even celebrities like Lizzo took part: The pop star surprised our staff with a donated lunch on March 30. Learn more.

The Today Show honors a devoted nurse
Despite her own incurable cancer, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Registered Nurse Erika Rucks still comes to work every day to make a difference in the lives of our cancer patients and their families at M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. In October, the Today Show surprised Erika at work to present her with a new Ford Explorer, a $10,000 road trip, and 13,000 masks to protect others. Watch Erika’s reaction as the car arrived during her Today Show interview.

The Swab Squad and community testing
As COVID-19 case numbers in long-term facilities rose, M Health Fairview mobilized the “Swab Squad,” a group of trained medical professionals, to test residents of those facilities for COVID-19. But our community testing didn’t stop there. Over the summer and fall, M Health Fairview teams conducted thousands of free COVID-19 tests alongside local and statewide partners across the Twin Cities in an effort to protect vulnerable populations from the pandemic. Read more.

Expanded Health Commons addresses health equity
M Health Fairview staff gave out thousands of free flu shots, donated $100,000 to fight hunger, and launched the HOPE Commission in 2020. But one of largest steps we took to advance health equity in the Twin Cities occurred on Sept. 24, when we unveiled the expanded M Health Fairview Health Commons – Cedar Riverside. Registered Nurse Asha Hassan, pictured, serves as a resource for the East African community in the Twin Cities, helping provide free healthcare for the diverse and underserved Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Read more.

A history-making achievement
On March 26, 2020, M Health Fairview Bethesda Hospital made history when it was converted almost overnight into one of the nation’s first and only hospitals dedicated entirely to COVID-19 care. For months, teams there and elsewhere within our system treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients, with an intensive care unit (ICU) patient rate that exceeded other hospitals around the world. Now, Bethesda is serving a new community mission as a homeless shelter, and the experienced COVID-19 teams working there have been redeployed to M Health Fairview St. Joseph’s Campus. Read more.

A new vision emerges
This year, M Health Fairview announced many new changes that will make our services simpler, more affordable, and more accessible care while addressing significant financial challenges. Our plans include the launch of Minnesota’s first EmPATH units (design pictured) – mental health units where people in crisis can go to get urgent care tailored to their needs. COVID-19 also accelerated our embrace of virtual care. In 2020, we logged more than 1 million virtual care encounters with patients. “Together, we will rise to meet this moment,” Fairview Health Services CEO James Hereford said. Learn more.