How the DOTmed staff is dealing with the coronavirus
by Philip F. Jacobus
, CEO | April 01, 2020
At DOTmed, we sent everyone to work from home a week before it was suggested, and three weeks before it was required.
We all communicate over instant message and by email and speak to each other on the telephone as necessary, but over the last few days I have been checking in with everyone just to see how they are doing after being at home for almost three weeks.
Alex Sakin is in charge of our Clean Sweep department. He lives in New Jersey with a family of five and told me it's a madhouse. Alex and his team have been working from home and, according to him, they haven't missed a beat.
He's anxious for the crisis to pass and he knows people who are sick. His grocery stores are both frequented by people and short of supplies.
Alex never seems to get his feathers ruffled. He has a good attitude about life and he's dealing with this situation as best he can, setting a good example for his family.
Alex Suvall is in charge of our customer service department. Alex is always in a good mood wherever he is and makes everyone around him feel good at the same time.
Alex and his husband Albert live together in Brooklyn and share a home with two other people. They are all taking turns going out and shopping but because they live in a crowded neighborhood, they are very careful about how often they go out and where they go.
Alex is looking forward to getting back to the office. He is handling all of our customer service issues from home. Alex is a real pleasure to work with and he helps to keep all of our users happy and that is really important for us.
Asaf Greene is our chief technology officer and he is at home with his wife and their two-year-old. His wife is on short-term disability so she's able to spend a little time with the two-year-old, and Asaf also spends time so that his wife can have some time off.
Asaf works quietly but diligently, and when you look at DOTmed.com and see how much you can do on our site, Asaf is the guy who deserves the credit.
Normally Asaf would take the bus to work and read on the bus but because he has no commute he hasn't been able to read as much as he'd like. He's hoping that will change. He's also ready to get back to the office.
Ashley Iafrate is my assistant, and working from home is nothing new for her because she did it after she had her baby in September.
I talked to Ashley a lot today and she said that she's in no hurry to get back to sitting near me in the office (actually she didn't say that). She's ready to get back to work and she's worried about leaving the house. Ashley loves to cook and she's enjoying spending extra time with her baby, so for her it's a little bit of a silver lining.
Catherine DeOca and I have worked together longer than just about anyone I know except for Barbara. I must've worked with her for at least 35 years. She really is a trooper because she didn't retire when she could, and she still comes in and helps us with our accounting and payroll.
She and Winston make up our HR department. Catherine is the kind of person that makes you feel good when you're around her. She lives north of the city and has been working from home more and more lately because she hates the commute.
She told me that she's keeping to herself and wants to avoid any possibility of getting sick. The grocery stores in her neighborhood are sparse, just like everywhere else in New York City, but she's managed to keep food on the table.
Colm Ford is one of our oldest employees. He left the company and came back and after the passing of his mother he moved to South Carolina to live with his father.
He's a true gentleman and he told me that he's being extra careful because of his father's advanced age.
Colm said he's doing his own cooking and avoiding contact with everyone, but he's able to get out every day and walk around.
Connie Goon, in our advertising department, lives in Brooklyn and has been extremely careful about leaving her apartment, and doing it only rarely. She told me that she has a terrace and gets fresh air but she is especially careful about leaving the apartment.
She has video chats with her sister in Queens and just spoke to her mother in Manhattan.
She stays in touch with clients and is anxious to get back to work in the office.
Correy DeWindt is on our Clean Sweep team. Unfortunately, his father has the coronavirus and is in intensive care in New Jersey. He studied photography in college and takes pictures of all of the items that we post on our site. He also works part-time on weekends as a wedding photographer.
Correy is our newest employee and although I've never met him he seems like a really nice young man. Right now he's concentrating on taking care of his mother and praying that his father will be out of the hospital soon.
David Blumenthal and his wife Noemi left the city and went to their home in Pennsylvania. Their son is two years old... Need I say more? But they are both still managing to get their work done.
Noemi's parents spent some time with them.
David is one of those people who can be happy wherever he is and always has a positive attitude. He feels like he has his hands full because he can't take his son outside, but somehow, they are dealing with it.
Dave Ritz, DOTmed's oldest employee except for Barbara and myself has been working at home for a number of years. Dave's wife is a VIP in state government in Maryland and was involved in preparing for the virus there. Dave was worried about her for fear that she'd come into contact with the virus but fortunately she hasn't.
Dave and his two children, and now his wife, are all in the house and if you call Dave on the phone you'll know that his kids are there, and by listening to them you can imagine that they're crawling over him as he is trying to get his work done. Dave is part of our first line of security and has been part of the IT team for 21 years. His main goal is for his kids to be able to play outside!
George Persin was transferred from our Clean Sweep department to our advertising department and moved from his New York City apartment he shared with his roommates, to the basement of his parents' house. Both of his parents are doctors and see patients but they still sent him to the basement for 11 days to make sure that he wasn't sick.
George is doing a great job working from home and staying in touch with all of his clients. He drinks way too much coffee for someone his age and apparently he is still doing it in the basement. His younger brothers and sisters are home and apparently send him scraps of food! Seriously, it sounds like he has a pretty nice situation, a door that opens out into the backyard, he walks his dogs Danny and Moose and goes mountain biking.
Gus Iversen is the editor in chief of HealthCare Business News and a very intelligent guy. He lives in Brooklyn with his girlfriend and the two of them have a dog named Rue and two cats. They also currently have a third cat with one eye who they are fostering.
Gus is always calm and thoughtful. When I spoke to him he was in good spirits and was enjoying working from his home office, where he can listen to music as loud as he wants. He is cautious about going out and also concerned with the lack of food at his neighborhood grocery stores.
Joey Le went home with a cold the week before we sent everyone else home then as he got better and was ready to come back, we decided to keep everyone home. Joey is new with the company, but he is a pleasant and amiable person.
He is spending time with his father and the only thing he misses is the gym because there is no place for him to work out.
John Cain is part of our Clean Sweep team and works in our warehouse. He was extremely positive when we spoke. He enjoys the work because every day is different but he's very careful. Whenever he goes to the grocery store he wears a mask and gloves. John is famous for his cooking — at least in his house he is — and he's doing more with less and concentrating on doing more with leftovers. He says he has to because many of the things he normally buys aren't available in the grocery store.
Fortunately John's wife works on the telephone from home, so both John and his wife are still gainfully employed.
John Fischer is our senior reporter and he is pumping out three stories a day in our online news. He wasn't feeling well when I spoke to him. He seemed to have a cold but he didn't seem to have any of the characteristics of coronavirus, so hopefully it is just a cold.
John also misses the office. Even though he has roommates, he wishes that he could be in the office visiting with the rest of us.
John hopes he feels better in time for Easter so he can go home and visit his family.
Kirsten Rowe is our director of warehouse operations. She lives at home with her son, Brody and she entertains him with video chatting and tries to keep him on target doing his homework.
Kirsten arranges for Peapod delivery and other food services and asks the person to deliver to the garage where she goes out and cleans it.
She is very worried about her father, who is in his 60's, since he is a prime target and not used to being cooped up in the house. They are all avoiding him at all costs so no one gets him sick.
Kirsten spends a lot of time with her dog, Duke, and seems to be in great spirits.
Llauger Minaya lives outside Albany in Rensselaer, New York with his wife and three children. He is definitely the man of the house and told me that fortunately, his wife is one of the best cooks in the universe.
Llauger and his family moved from Queens into a comfortable complex with a swimming pool and fitness center in upstate New York so his kids can go to a better school. It surprises me that he told me the only thing he knows how to cook is scrambled eggs, but fortunately Jelin, makes up for it.
Llauger is busy catching any scammers who might come on our site and tells me that our traffic is up so he is more busy than normal. He likes Andrew Cuomo and thinks he is doing a great job.
Mai Hiraoka is our media relations manager in charge of our media partnerships, and was the first one to go home. We have all learned that Mai has a sixth sense about things and sure enough, she was right that it was the smart thing to do.
Mai told me that she lives on the 21st floor in a building that has more people than lived in my entire home town when I grew up. They have a rule that they can only have 4 people on the elevator at a time which makes it a little difficult.
Mai is concerned about Asian discrimination and she hasn't left the apartment building in three weeks.
Mai is in good spirits because she is using this time to exercise and tells me that she is in the best shape she has ever been in. She is also cooking and gave me a recipe for mild Japanese curry with potatoes, onions, carrots and rice. I haven't been able to find the curry but I will.
Matt Ulman is our president and he has a lot on his mind. What direction does the company head in, how are we going to survive this crisis, and what can we do to help.
Matt has a home in New Jersey and he moved there with his wife and daughter. He told me it's not easy to have a child cooped up in the house, in the same way that some of the other workers have suggested. Still, he has a positive attitude and he believes that our company can fill an important role and help healthcare providers.
Matt has been looking for ways to import masks from China to help hospitals in New York and he worked on a portal to help hospitals redeploy assets.
Michael Cheung in our accounting department told me that he misses the office because he misses visiting with people. He is glad to have a cat and enjoys his cat but he misses interacting with all the people in the office.
During workdays, he has a 90-minute commute but still prefers to be in the office.
Sean Ruck was not reachable for me. I know that he is living in Vermont out in the countryside and I am quite sure that he and his wife and his three kids are looking forward to springtime.
Gus speaks to Sean regularly and tells me he is doing well, so I am glad to hear that since we miss him here in New York.
Stephanie Biddle is a designer who works for DOTmed and who has her own business and does some design work for DOTmed. If you need a good designer, she is a good person to know.
Stephanie lives in a community halfway between Philadelphia and Atlantic City. She can go walking in the community, as there are plenty of places to walk.
She is also concerned about the availability of food and mingling at the grocery store.
Susan Minotillo, in our advertising department, lives in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. Normally it's teeming with people coming and going and enjoying the neighborhood, but Susan told me that her neighborhood is almost dead during the day and completely dead at night.
Susan lives there with her husband Michael and normally they go out on weeknights and enjoy the neighborhood but ever since we closed the office Susan has stayed home and only gone out the local grocery store on LaGuardia Place, named after Mayor LaGuardia.
Susan definitely is anxious to get out and she told me she's tired of being cooped up but she has a good positive attitude and is looking forward to the future.
Tom DiForti is in our Clean Sweep department and is one of our oldest employees. He lives in Long Island with his wife. However he has managed to find a private room where he can do his work, and for Tom, it is business as usual. He has been helping hospitals post things they want and need on DOTmed.
Tom is an avid fisherman but since he cannot go fishing, he told me he is doing some cooking. He is definitely in good spirits, even though he has very limited food supplies in the grocery stores.
Umaire Kahn is in the IT department, and I spoke with him a lot today. He's home with his mom and dad and taking good care of them. Umaire's a real gentleman and gets along with everyone in the office. Whenever there is a problem he's the go-to guy. Umaire's careful not to go out into the city any longer than necessary because he has his parents to worry about.
Winston Leung, who is our accounting manager, is at home with his wife and two kids. Fortunately, he lives in Long Island and has a 7,000 square foot backyard so there is plenty of room for the kids to play and work off steam.
Winston has experience in working from home and he has done it for years, so as far as work goes, he is all set up. Most of the people know him in his neighborhood, but there is anti-Asian sentiment floating around, so it makes him a little nervous about going to the grocery store.
As for Barbara and I, we're at our home in the country and working every day. We have really sketchy Internet, which makes it difficult but we're getting a taste of retirement and are able to cook lunch and dinner instead of eating from the deli. We enjoy each other's company so for us there are no problems.
I hope wherever you are and whatever you're doing that you and your family and friends remain healthy. I hope whatever you're doing to keep busy gives you a feeling of satisfaction and that you're not feeling too cooped up.
Let's hope that as a country and as a global community we learn from this.
View all The Jacobus Report Blog Posts
About Phil Jacobus
Phil Jacobus has been involved in health care since 1977, when he visited China to sell equipment. He has done business in 35 countries and still travels extensively. Phil is active in charity, helps rural clinics and always tries to help DOTmed users when he can.
Phil is a member of AHRA, HFMA, AAMI and the Cryogenic Society of America. He has contributed to a number of magazines and journals and has addressed trade groups.
Phil's proudest achievement is that he has been happily married to his wife Barbara since 1989, who helped him found DOTmed in 1998.
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