The SPIRIT of DOM Staff Award

The SPIRIT of DOM Staff Award

Recognition Award for

Staff Professionalism, Inspiration, Responsibility, Integrity, and Teamwork (SPIRIT)

in the Department of Medicine (DOM)

Special COVID-19 Edition

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 SPIRIT of DOM Award, COVID Edition! Our intent for this award cycle is to acknowledge staff members who have made significant contributions to the missions of the Department of Medicine directly or indirectly related to the coronavirus pandemic. The award committee received 47 nominations for 28 different individuals yielding ~40 pages of written information about the remarkable actions of our staff.  Thank you very much for everyone’s efforts to recognize the excellence of our staff who have gone above and beyond the call of duty during this pandemic.

The recipients of the award, in alphabetical order, are:


Brooksley Bigart works as an Administrative Officer and Executive Analyst in central administration at ZSFG. She has been with the Department of Medicine since 2018 and at UCSF for three years prior to that. Brooks is universally known as the “go-to” person at ZSFG where she is often found behind the scenes making sure everything comes together. She volunteers to participate as a member or leader of a myriad of initiatives and projects to improve work and life for all those around her, including service as a Staff Experience Champion and Gallup Ambassador. At the beginning of the pandemic, Brooks immediately assembled a phenomenal resource list for staff, faculty, and trainees to promote education, wellbeing, and support. And her quick thinking and commitment to caring for the DOM community at ZSFG did not stop there. Jennifer Thomas, Division Manager for DGIM at ZSFG, writes: “Brooks has been a complete superstar during the early months of the COVID-19 response at ZSFG, soliciting and organizing lunches and dinners to be donated to frontline DOM staff multiple times a week.  She coordinated distribution and insured that the donations were shared across both inpatient and outpatient settings and across divisions. Brooks has continued to work on site four days a week, filling in critical needs to facilitate supply deliveries and facilities access, filling in for so many staff who are working remotely. In addition to soliciting meals, she also sourced donations of hand sanitizer in the early months of the pandemic and later, as various groups arranged covid-19 testing events.” In addition, Brooks has personally volunteered at multiple COVID response events in the San Francisco, where she has worked alongside DOM colleagues to bring much needed testing to the community, including events in the Mission District and Bayside. The Bayside event was particularly critical as it focused upon testing for highly vulnerable citizens who are currently unhoused and at much higher risk of illness. No matter what the need, Brooks can usually be found at the heart of the ZSFG response. 

Douglas Black is a Clinical Research Analyst with the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at ZSFG and will be celebrating his 20th year with UCSF in 2021. Doug is described by his many nominators as “compassionate and empathetic, beloved, respectful, extremely reliable, and a wonderful role model for the UCSF Community.” Doug has been the “quartermaster and quiet security” at the very heart of the Division’s efforts to plan, guide, and implement mass community COVID testing. Dr. Diane Havlir, Division Chief, shared: “Doug has led the organization and logistics for the Unidos en Salud (United in Health) mass COVID testing for our community. From the first testing in April when the city was in shutdown, Doug figured out how to get all the supplies, locations, and so many other logistical items.  For the events themselves, Doug is at every meeting, is the person there at 5:30 in the morning for tent set up for testing, at the site all day, and at the headquarters until late hours in the evening. Since the beginning, we have done ““test and respond” to thousands of SF community members and tested about 7500 persons during the Thanksgiving Holiday. Doug’s commitment and dedication are simply incredible. He works extremely well with all of our partners, treating everyone with respect. The ongoing UCSF Unidos en Salud collaboration has been at forefront of the COVID community response in SF. The project has been featured widely in the media including NYT, NPR, PBS, CNN situation room, the Chronicle, Mission Local, and many other outlets. We share this because the impact would not have been possible without Doug. He is the person behind the scenes, essential to the project, never in the limelight. He is a genuine representative of UCSF PRIDE in all its forms.”  

Michelle Cai is a Quality Improvement Specialist in the Division of Hospital Medicine (DHM) at UCSF Health and began her work with us in 2017. Many of Michelle’s faculty and staff colleagues recognized her for extraordinary COVID support efforts behind the scenes, taking on all of the extra efforts while maintaining her typical assignments. Her nominations highlight her outstanding contributions: “Michelle was specifically instrumental in rapidly shifting to support the efforts of a newly spawned Respiratory Isolation Unit at Parnassus Heights and helped us optimize RN and provider bedside exposure to COVID patients, helping us develop guidelines to balance care delivery and COVID exposure. She has also taken the lead role in the Portrait Project, in which providers stick a picture of their faces on their PPE to help patients recognize and connect with them. This popular project has now grown and includes all providers, not just within DHM, but in other departments and divisions as well. Michelle also has been the dedicated note taker for all the UCSF COVID Town Halls to ensure division leadership gets the information when they cannot attend. The meticulous notes include graphs, charts, and links to help with data visualizations and are truly outstanding, detailed, and well organized. She worked after hours to ensure the notes were sent out in a timely matter. Division service directors noted that they were incredibly helpful with keeping them in the loop with all that was happening with COVID. Michelle has also been the administrative lead on other COVID projects including DHM Clinical Operations group and the DHM COVID Planning Task Force (which includes the sub-groups COVID Response Work Group, COVID Surge Work Group, COVID Work Group Leads, and Lessons on the Frontline Work Group). One faculty shared that during “some busy and challenging clinical times on the COVID service early in the pandemic, Michelle volunteered and helped process receipts, payments, reimbursements, schedule meetings, and ensured my non-clinical obligations were on track so that I could fully focus on clinical care for COVID patients.’”  

Gato Gourley is the Division Manager of the Center for Vulnerable Populations at ZSFG where he has been working since 2012. He is recognized by his colleagues for the incredible spirit with which he does all things: humble, kind, and committed. Division Chief Dr. Margot Kushel described in detail how Gato’s altruistic and abundant work has made a huge impact: “I am thrilled to nominate Gato for his extraordinary and unheralded work behind the scenes to make the United in Health, Unhoused COVID testing events happen.  The COVID pandemic started soon after the CVP became a division and Gato transitioned to the role of Division Manager, during a time of rapid expansion.  He managed the difficult process of transition, including hiring many new staff members to the newly started Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative. During this already intensely busy period, Gato took on the additional role of engineering two very large and complex COVID19 outreach and testing events in the homeless community. Managing these events did not fit into the job description of the division manager.  Yet, in his quiet and inimitable manner, he stepped in and did all that needed to be done to make these events a success.  He managed an intensely complex operation that included purchasing large amounts of supplies, arranging and executing contracts with community-based organizations, phlebotomists, rental companies, moving vans, and more.  He provided project management, morale boosting, volunteer corralling, and troubleshooting with his usual quiet good humor.  He worked day and night, for weeks, doing tasks both mundane (driving around town to locate spare bunny suits in hardware stores) and complex (executing contracts with multiple community-based organizations in a matter of a week).  On the testing days, he worked from 4:30 AM to late at night, his energy never flagging. For weeks on end, he logged 12-15-hour days – covering every detail, picking up every task that others couldn’t do, or didn’t want to.  He gave others opportunity to grow their skill set, and mentored many staff members throughout the process. And he did this all while continuing to manage the complex operations of a new division with a large new program embedded in it.” 

Alejandra Jauregui is a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy, and Sleep Medicine at UCSF Health and has been with us since 2015. She was nominated by many faculty, nursing care, and staff colleagues for her unparalleled divisional efforts to respond to the COVID crisis. “Just a few days after everything shut down in mid-March, my group was asked to lead UCSF’s team for an NIAID-directed project to build an entirely new cohort study focused on hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Alejandra was made responsible for the implementation of an entirely new cohort (the COVID-19 Multi-phenotyping for Effective Therapies Cohort, COMET) at three sites with outstanding efficiency and in record time.  Thanks in large part to Alejandra’s efforts as the lead CRC, UCSF’s site was the first in the 10-site NIAID Consortium to start enrolling patients, only three weeks after we were first asked to participate.  She worked seven days a week, many days 12 hours or more, to get the COMET study up and running, and to get precious biosamples to our laboratory-based research partners so they could work around the clock to understand the biology of COVID-19. She led a team of five CRCs across three sites, including training four new hires and numerous volunteers during this period.  As a native Spanish speaker and member of the Latina community, Alejandra felt an intense personal commitment to making sure that members of the LatinX community were represented in COVID-19 research studies and treated with the greatest respect. Thanks to her exceptional leadership and dedication, our site was the first in the NIAID Consortium to complete our target enrollment of 100 patients. Alejandra has become a leader in the NIAID multisite network; other sites now often turn to her to help them troubleshoot their barriers to enrollment. When local enrollment was completed for the NIAID-funded COMET study, however, Alejandra still had more to give.  She approached me and asked if she could add to her duties by taking on a new role as the lead CRC for one of our interventional clinical trials, the ISPY COVID trial.  ISPY COVID is a Phase 2 adaptive platform trial of novel therapeutics for patients with severe COVID-19. She has quickly established herself as one of the leading CRC’s in this multisite network across the United States, with her attention to detail, careful approach to screening and enrollment, and dedication to the study goals.” 

Emily Yeung is an Administrative Officer & Interim Program Administrator for the Internal Medicine Residency Program in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UCSF Health. She has been working for UCSF since 2007. Emily is described as epitomizing “tirelessness, honesty, dedication, quality, positivity, and commitment.” She is one who voluntarily learns news skills so she can take on critical new tasks to facilitate Division responses, especially in times of crisis such as the COVID pandemic. “Despite only working part-time, Emily has dedicated all of her energy to the program administrator role.  In particular, Emily learned and then created the outpatient schedules for 20 primary care internal medicine residents.  Creating outpatient schedules is an incredibly complex task, as it requires learning multiple steps and coordinating these 20 different, individualized schedules so that electives are balanced among residents and not duplicated. Most program administrators take several months to learn this role.  Not only did Emily rapidly learn and execute these schedules (in a matter of a few weeks), but she had the added complexity of trying to find and secure new elective opportunities for residents due to the impact of COVID on subspecialty elective clinics.  Moreover, she worked tirelessly to communicate schedule changes with the residents and ensure that each resident’s schedule was perfect.  At one point, Emily was on her computer email at 11pm on a Friday night so the resident would have an updated, accurate schedule (and would be able to see patients) Monday morning.  Her outstanding work not only affected patient care (so the residents could see patients in these elective clinics without incident) but her diligence improved the educational experience of the residents.  Multiple residents [have] reached out to me to tell me that Emily’s work made all the difference in their elective ambulatory experience.  And Emily did all of this with 3 young children at home due to COVID and shelter-in-place.”