Walk into the Massachusetts General Hospital's Transplant Center on White 5 and chances are the first person you will see is Lynn Wilcott. As the assistant to James Markmann, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery, Wilcott works behind the scenes to make sure everyone has what they need to successfully do their jobs. “Like a stage manager for a Broadway show, I try to be the ‘go-to’ person in the division, helping our colleagues problem solve and—hopefully—making everyone who works here or who visits us feel welcome.”
During the COVID-19 surge, the department transitioned to a remote work environment, with only a handful of employees physically at the hospital. Wilcott volunteered to be the on-site staff member. “Because I live close by and don’t have to rely on driving or taking public transportation, I am able to help the department well beyond my usual pre-pandemic daily routine. We have such a great team, and it shows in how collaborative we all are.”
The unpredictable nature of the transplant field has helped Wilcott—and the department as a whole—manage through the new normal of care. “In transplant, we’re always aware that the whole day can change in a moment if there’s a transplant going on. So, we’re pretty used to last-minute changes and schedule shifts,” she says. “The mindfulness we always try to impart daily—remembering to always be as flexible and gracious as possible even when you have to call someone to reschedule an appointment—becomes even more important. Everyone is stressed out, and everyone is scared. But we always try to remember there is always room to be more kind.”
Still, the pandemic has proven challenging—particularly as the department has come to rely on technology to replace in-person interactions. Wilcott has turned a conference room into a makeshift teleconference center for daily rounds via Zoom, fellowship interviews and patient appointments. “Essentially, it’s a game of Tetris to help everyone get what they need to ensure continuity during the pandemic.”
In addition to her daily role within the Transplant Center, Wilcott also is an original member of the Mass General HazMat Response Team, which is comprised of more than 70 volunteers from departments throughout the hospital. The team—including Wilcott—was formed just before the city of Boston hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
Wilcott says she is grateful for everyone working on the front lines. “The staff who have been at the entrances, checking our COVID passes and handing out masks have been so kind and friendly to everyone who walks through the door. It’s a really lovely way to start the day,” says Wilcott. “I have to applaud the Environmental Services team. They have done mountains of work to ensure the safety of everyone who comes through Mass General's doors.”