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“I just do the so-called dad jokes,” says security officer Tricia McQuade, of Massachusetts General Hospital's Police, Security and Outside Services.

But that description of what McQuade and her colleagues have done in the last few months is far too modest an explanation, says David Dudzinski, MD, of Mass General's Cardiology Division. “Tricia has made me smile each time I’ve encountered her at the morning check-in,” says Dudzinski.

Tricia McQuade, security officer
From left: Tara Chipman, Tricia McQuade and Tom Dennehy, all of Mass General's Police, Security and Outside Services.

Since March 30, Mass General employees have been asked to complete a self-monitoring screening form before coming to work in the hospital’s clinical settings—attesting that they do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Staff then receive a “COVID pass” for the day, which is shown to Police and Security staff upon entering the hospital, clearing them for work.

“The entire setup for security and for screening employees has run smoothly and been quite exemplary for the past few weeks, but Tricia and her coworkers just highlight the feeling of community we have at Mass General,” says Dudzinski, adding that McQuade often refers to her coworkers as the “smile brigade.”

At the start of the new self-monitoring process, many people were worried, says McQuade. “I started offering a joke of the day or word of the day. When it was pouring rain, my word of the day was sunshine,” she says. “Sometimes people don’t smile, and that’s okay. You get to understand personalities the more you work side by side with people.”

McQuade says she also has adopted a mantra that’s helped her get through this time: “We started this together. Let’s keep it together.”

“Customer service is one of the most important components of what we do in Police and Security,” says McQuade. “And when you work together to make sure everyone feels welcome—that’s infectious.”