Division of Comparative Medicine Honored with C.A.R.I.S. Award

Graphic on blue background that says 2020 CARIS Award, Compassion, Achievement, Respect, Inspiration, Service

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(December 11, 2020) — Recognizing their tireless dedication and commitment to excellence in spite of the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) was recently recognized with the C.A.R.I.S. Award at the December 9 GUMC virtual community meeting. 

Coming from the Greek word for kindness and grace, the C.A.R.I.S. Award is given annually to staff who model those values, as well as compassion, achievement, respect, inspiration and service. 

Unlike many roles at GUMC, the nature of the work done by most of the DCM staff members requires their presence on campus seven days a week, 365 days a year. Memorably, one employee hiked four miles to campus through a snowstorm several years ago to get to work, Edward B. Healton, MD, MPH, executive vice president for health sciences at GUMC, recalled at the meeting. 

“It’s just emblematic of the commitment of this team to their responsibilities and to the program that they’re such an important part of,” Healton said. 

That dedication has been critical to the DCM’s work. Since the pandemic started, staff members in the DCM have overcome several obstacles related to public transportation service reductions, dependent care, and more. To fulfill social distancing requirements in effect from April to October, the DCM’s technicians worked in two separate teams to avoid overlapping hours. The arrangement meant that all of the technicians worked one weekend day every week for months. 

Moreover, those working in the DCM have had to take on additional responsibilities when staffing levels changed due to attrition and when colleagues needed to quarantine. However, despite their close working conditions, there hasn’t been a single known instance of coronavirus transmission between staff members, something that Patricia Foley, DVM, director of the DCM, attributed to their adherence to safe working practices and procedures.

In addition to all of the complications related to the pandemic, the DCM prepared for the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) triennial site visit in November, requiring team members to complete a significant amount of work above and beyond their everyday duties. The DCM rose to the occasion and the site visit was a big success, earning many commendations that included the animal care staff. 

“I couldn’t be more proud and in awe of this team of extraordinary individuals,” Foley said. “They embody the five tenets that C.A.R.I.S. stands for. The teamwork this group showed over the past nine months was amazing.”

“Under facility manager Shawn Rousseau’s leadership, they really pulled together, going the extra mile and helping each other to get the work done every day,” she added. “Throughout it all, they were always mindful and respectful of keeping each other safe.” 

Division of Comparative Medicine Staff

Malcolm Bello

Howard Calhoun

Jackeline Claros

Rhondra Downing

Sonia Encinas

Nora Enriquez

Olga Fuentes

Tasha Gassaway

Mekkonen Giorgies

Felix Gomez

Miosha Lamar

Kevin McCallum

Anthony Neal

Samuel Oguntayo

Pauline Osei-Tutu

Danyelle Ray

Miguel Ruiz

Shawn Rousseau

Concepcion Sanchez

Alexandria Wilson

Kat Zambon
GUMC Communications