Alumni Success: Joanna M’16 and Daniel M’18 Hughes

Both members of this Colonial Couple have important work to do in healthcare management to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Joanna and Daniel Hughes

For Joanna and Daniel Hughes, healthcare managers and recent graduates of RMU’s online master’s degree program in health services administration, coronavirus has created new challenges.

Joanna is a clinical integration specialist at St. Clair Hospital in Mount Lebanon, where her official duties are analyzing quality control data and integrating it into clinical care. But when the emergency room began to be inundated with calls from people worried they might have Covid-19, she was tasked with organizing and helping to run a triage hotline staffed from home by four nurses on 8- to 12-hour call shifts, herself included.

Based on a caller’s answers to their questions, they can recommend who needs to be tested, who needs to see a doctor or come to the hospital, and who is able to stay at home and self-isolate. They run a similar program for hospital staff to prevent an outbreak in their workforce.

“We, just like everybody else in the region, are changing our processes daily,” Joanna says. 
“Everything is subject to change. Nothing is ever set in stone. Everything is fluid with this ever-evolving virus.”

Daniel is director of clinical operations for worksite clinics across the country managed by MedExpress. He and his team are now working with large manufacturing facilities to create safe return-to-work plans for their employees, in order to prevent outbreaks like the one that occurred at a meatpacking plant in South Dakota.

“We used to be able to fly somebody out,” he says. “Now it’s done completely with photos and other online tools.” 

For instance, Daniel says, his team now uses Google Maps to analyze where traffic lights are in relation to a facility. That helps them to decide how to map out the best restricted access points to avoid causing traffic jams during a shift change, when workers will be slowed down by temperature checks and other screenings.

Both of them have another important responsibility they can’t ignore while handling their job responsibilities — their 2-year-old daughter, Adeline. 

“It’s been challenging to keep her busy, but we just do a lot of activities and a lot of outside time,” Joanna says. “It’s been a learning curve for us. She’s a good kid, so we can’t really complain. She doesn’t want to be bored.”