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Teachers & Students Share Their Stories, UAB Story Power 2020

Members of the UAB community shared their stories of growth and hardship in 2020 during the second annual event UAB Story Power, which was hosted by the UAB Institute for Arts in Medicine on Thursday

“I’ve been asked to talk a little bit about 2020. It’s a year that we’re all, I’m not sure that living through is quite the right term, maybe enduring is a better way of looking at it,” Dr. Andrew Duxbury, a geriatrician and a professor of clinical geriatrics at UAB said.

Dr. Duxbury said that the current year has taught him a lot about how he has built up an incredible amount of resilience for many years in terms of being able to face adversity.

His ability to cope comes from being a gay man in a certain generation, having been living in the San Francisco Bay area during the AIDS pandemic. Duxbury witnessed plenty of death during his medical training, according to him, and it helped him not be as afraid of disease and death.

Barbara Thornton, a COVID-19 first responder, described her initial fear that she had faced when she learned that her unit would be the designated area for COVID-positive patients.

“We were all a little nervous. However, our unit leaders stepped up to ensure us that we were capable and ready for the challenge,” she said.

The unit has been able to provide high quality care to the COVID-19 patients through the perseverance and hard work of their entire team, according to Thornton.

On the other hand, chief nursing officer Terri Poe said that although her career has always been preparing her for disaster, nothing could have prepared her for the 2020 pandemic.

“As we moved into the command center in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of that training that we had done in disaster preparedness really did not help much,” Poe said.

Despite the fact that nobody was prepared for what 2020 had in store, Poe said that all of her team members, even those that weren’t clinically driven, came together and showed amazing teamwork to help fight against COVID-19.

Dr. Samantha Hill, an assistant professor and pediatrician for adolescents, talked about all of the hardships she had faced in 2020 as not only a physician, but a black woman.

“In addition to coping with and dealing with what it means to talk to my young patients about what this pandemic is, that they’re not invincible, that they can potentially get this particular virus, I had to also deal with, as usual, that I am living in a black body in a world that’s not friendly to black individuals,” Hill said.

Another experience was shared from local business owner Lucy Bonds, who had to close down her coffee shop on University Blvd. due to the financial shortfalls that the pandemic had brought.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Bonds said.

The full event will be available to watch on the UAB Alys Stephens Center’s YouTube channel and Facebook page before the week of Nov. 16

Edited by Breeze Yancy & John H. Glenn

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