Newman alumnus travels to Chicago to help fight COVID-19

Apr 30, 2020

Above image: Rob Winegrad (right) poses with two travel nurses from Tulsa, Oklahoma, while working at AMITA Health Holy Family Medical Center in Des Plaines, Illinois, to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rob Winegrad ’13 has been working as a respiratory therapist for nearly seven years now. He is currently employed at Ascension Via Christi in Wichita, Kansas. That is where he learned about an opportunity to help his field colleagues from another city in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Winegrad left for Chicago on April 22 and plans to return May 5. His main goal: to simply help out in a time of need.

For many of the nation’s health care community, this is what they spent so many years in school and extra certification education hours training for. A chance to make a difference during a time when every person in every part of the world is going through the same experience at the same time.

Winegrad said this is an opportunity for him to make an impact on this disease. He is working at a hospital in Des Plaines, Illinois, which is a suburb of Chicago.

“The facility I am working at is a longterm acute care hospital with very ill patients. Essentially, the most vulnerable of the patient population as they all have multiple health issues,” he said.

Respiratory therapists certainly help make up the front line of the fight against COVID-19. Their cardiopulmonary care training equips them with the knowledge and skill necessary to help patients during the critical hours of their illness.

Winegrad earned his Associate of Science in Health Science Respiratory Care at Newman. Program director Margo Wagner said COVID-19 only reinforces the fact that health care is a field full of changes and constant learning.

“Health care is always changing,” she said. “Best practices and guidelines change based on experiences throughout the country and globally. There is always something new to learn. All of our faculty members strive to impart new and accurate information to our students so they are poised to provide the best care they can.”

Winegrad said he is thankful for his education at Newman. He graduated from the respiratory therapy program with confidence and real-world experience.

“Newman has fantastic instructors and intense course material. In addition to that, having the clinical rotations at the facility I primarily work at helped tremendously.”

Wagner said the university’s location plays an important role in the partnerships it carries with local hospitals and clinics, providing an abundance of resources and opportunities for the students going through the program.

After graduating from Newman, Winegrad immediately moved into his career with Ascension Via Christi. Within his first year, he was named a Via Christi Difference Maker. His caring nature and passion for helping his patients are evident in his willingness to travel and help others in need — even when it puts him at risk.

“I enjoy my work, and I enjoy helping people. Helping colleagues and providing the best care I can for this vulnerable patient population.”