Monika Shah, MD, infectious disease specialist, Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Medicine, and Chair of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Graduate Medical Education Committee, is everything you'd want in a good friend.
Women Behind-the-Scenes at MSK: Room Service Associate Akimi Gouldbourne
Akimi Gouldbourne joined Memorial Sloan Kettering right after finishing college, eager to put her degree and expertise in food and nutrition to good use.
“What’s unique is the opportunity I have not only using my degree but helping and putting a smile on patients' faces daily,” she said.
She’s been a member of the Food & Nutrition team for more than 17 years, delivering food to patients throughout the hospital and arranging for special dietary needs.
“A core component of Food and Nutrition is providing comfort, care and nutrition through food and service,” said Gouldbourne’s manager, Nancy Thomas. “Akimi has consistently embodied these values, especially during these unprecedented times.”
Despite Gouldbourne’s experience, nothing could have prepared her for the pandemic.
“One word that can describe my experience during the pandemic would be adaptability,” she said. “At first it was scary, however I try to remain optimistic by keeping abreast with all things pandemic.”
‘Diligence, Grace and Composure’
“2020 has been challenging for everyone, but especially challenging for essential workers who must manage their own personal concerns daily, and at the same time ensure the service delivered is excellent, and the continuity of care remains consistent to our patients,” Thomas said. “Akimi has diligently managed up to 26 Covid patients, while practicing the highest level of safety to safeguard those in her care and herself with a smile.”
To deliver a meal and enter the room of a patient with COVID-19, every team member must put on and carefully remove personal protective equipment -- or PPE --, which can take a lot of time and be stressful.
“When delivering multiple meals per shift, these additional tasks can be labor intensive,” Thomas said. “However Akimi performs her responsibilities with diligence, grace and composure.”
Celebrating the ‘Backbone’ of MSK
Gouldbourne knows she is not alone in handling more during this past year and is celebrating the women who have inspired her most.
“Women’s History Month is a time to reflect and acknowledge past and present women’s contributions to history and culture in our society,” she said.
But this year, she’s especially proud of what so many women have accomplished and persevered through during the pandemic.
“It is often said ‘Women are the backbone of the family’ and during the global pandemic I can only imagine most women dealing with work, family and children to ensure not only safety but some form of normalcy,” she said. “This is why women are Phenomenal!!!"