Hennepin Healthcare heroes recognized as Grand Marshals of the Minneapolis Aquatennial Parade

by Hennepin Healthcare

Five Hennepin Healthcare heroes have been invited by the mpls downtown council to be Grand Marshals of the Minneapolis Aquatennial Parade on Wednesday, July 21 at 7:30pm and will ride on the Grand Marshal float that will bear a banner that says “Heroes of Healthcare.”

“These professionals represent the commitment to excellence our employees demonstrate every day and throughout the pandemic – including work that occurred behind the scenes – that truly made a difference for our community,” said Hennepin Healthcare CEO Jennifer DeCubellis.

Each year the mpls downtown council invites notable members of our community to be the Grand Marshals of the Minneapolis Aquatennial Parade. This year, they are recognizing heroes in healthcare as their Grand Marshals.

An emergency department nurse, a doctor, a lab technologist, a violence prevention specialist and case manager, and a respiratory therapist who recently donated a kidney to her father will ride on the Grand Marshal float from 12th St. & Nicollet Avenue east toward the Mississippi River, ending at 4th St.

“We also want to thank the Minneapolis community and beyond for supporting our healthcare heroes on the frontline of the pandemic,” said DeCubellis. “Your generous donations and words of encouragement boosted their spirits and kept them going when they needed it the most. Our community rallied and we all are stronger together!”

Hennepin EMS is providing emergency medical services coverage of the parade again this year.

Hennepin Healthcare serves a vital role in our community that includes providing level 1 trauma care to people from across the state, offering a full range of specialty care, supporting the health and wellness needs in clinics across our community, and working to reduce health disparities and advocating for equity.

Learn more about this year’s Aquatennial Parade Grand Marshals:

Shawna Sheppard, RRT
Respiratory therapists are some of the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic, doing what is needed at the bedside to clear airways and make sure patients can breathe. Shawna Sheppard did just that – and more. In the midst of caring for critically ill patients, she donated a kidney to her father. Their inspiring story is captured in the next story of Hennepin Healthcare’s “Here” video series.

“It’s been an incredibly busy time for respiratory therapists. Because COVID can have a very devastating effect on the lungs, many patients required ventilator support. We had to use a combination of therapies to help treat these patients. This was very challenging for our profession. Seeing young, seemingly healthy individuals get ill so quickly was difficult and sad because they were often alone. It really makes you appreciate every moment with the people you love. I truly appreciated having an essential job that allowed me to provide for my family during the pandemic; however, it also did took a toll on me. Seeing so many critically ill patients, many that did not survive, was heartbreaking. And then I lost my own Grandfather to COVID and because of the nursing home situations, I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him in person.”

Shirlee Xie, MD
Dr. Xie is a hospitalist who, like many other physicians, cared for COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic. She also touched the hearts of thousands of Americans who saw her on national TV sharing what a typical day was like in a busy public hospital. Her emotional interview exemplified the stress that caregivers were feeling during the second deadly wave of the virus.

“The silver lining, even during the most horrific moments of the pandemic, was seeing the team at Hennepin Healthcare come together to support each other, our patients, and their families. It gives hope that when we come out of this, we will be stronger and better than we were before.”

Jalilia Abdul-Brown, Hennepin Healthcare Next Step Program Violence Prevention Specialist and Case Manager

When COVID-19 hit and rose in the community so did gun violence. Jalilia Abdul-Brown with the Next Step Program stepped up to support communities in Minneapolis with COVID testing, vaccinations, a health based food shelf, and violence prevention gender-based female outreach and mental health programming in BIPOC neighborhoods. Just some of the many ways she employed her public health skills to care for her community. And when stay-at-home orders threatened to isolate her from outreach work with victims of violence, she remained vigilant and resilient, switching to FaceTime and other technology to stay in touch.

“I wasn’t about to let a virus break down the breakthroughs that had been made. People’s lives were already in chaos, and staying connected to reality was essential to healing.”

Evan Trewyn, RN

Caregivers in the Emergency Department have experienced an extremely busy year due to COVID-19. Evan Trewyn, RN is one of the many nurses who helped triage and care for COVID patients in the Emergency Department throughout the pandemic.

“During the COVID pandemic the term ‘isolation’ was front and center. From safely isolating our patients to a room by themselves, to healthcare providers wearing isolation gowns and personal protective equipment. But for me, the isolation was tolerable thanks to my family of healthcare colleagues working collaboratively every day, providing all of us with the extra support and assistance to give the care we needed to give. Having this positive-togetherness resulted in excellent care for our patient population. I am so proud of this family I have been a part of and continue to be a part of.”

Emily Herding, MS
Emily Herding is a medical technologist in Hennepin Healthcare’s Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, one of the first labs in the state to offer COVID-19 testing. Emily and her team were champions behind the scenes – overcoming many obstacles including staffing and supply shortages – to make sure tens of thousands of patients received test results as quickly as possible.

“It is truly inspiring the amount of work, effort, and sacrifice this team has endured in order to provide high complexity testing for not only the hospital, but the community we live in. To say I’m proud to be a part of this team, would be an understatement.”