The Ripon Forum

Volume 54, No. 2

May 2020

On the Front Lines of the Fight

By on May 17, 2020

by KELSEY SOPCHYK & MIKE RIOPELL

Neil Ehmig, a Trauma Nurse at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illiinois.

Descriptions of the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic often use the language of war, with health care warriors on the front lines battling the advance of the virus.

Soldiers make sacrifices for the love of their country, and nurses make sacrifices for the love of their communities. Neil Ehmig understands both sides well.

Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Ehmig has been working in his dream job as a trauma nurse since 2016 at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. That role put him right in the thick of the fight against COVID-19, as infection rates in the city and suburban southland rose and hospital units were quickly converted to care for victims of the new coronavirus. His unit was transformed in March, right as the virus’ spread started to accelerate.

Ehmig picked up an extra overnight shift to help with the fight, a reflection of similar decisions being made by his teammates across the hospital.

Soldiers make sacrifices for the love of their country, and nurses make sacrifices for the love of their communities. Neil Ehmig understands both sides well.

“I’m so confident in the teams that have been chosen to care for our COVID-19 patients. We are no strangers to trauma and thinking critically,” Ehmig said. 

Giving of himself in service of the greater good is part of his makeup. Growing up, he proudly watched his father, a Marine, head off for duty. Ehmig knew he wanted to follow suit someday. 

Long before the COVID-19 crisis hit and as Ehmig fell in love with nursing, he considered going back to school to advance his education and career. Instead, he followed his father into the military.

Ehmig joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves in a medical capacity as 2nd Lieutenant Flight Nurse in the 445th Aeromedical Evacuation squadron. The 27-year-old is also the school nurse at his alma mater, St. Rita High School in Chicago.

“The running joke is that I always have a lot of jobs,” he said.

For now, though, his focus is clear: Caring for the flood of COVID-19 patients at Advocate Christ Medical Center, sacrificing his time and time with family to take extra shifts and putting his personal safety on the line to help his community.

The hospital feels like a home base to him. When Ehmig was earning his nursing degree, he volunteered in Christ’s emergency department. So he says he has called Christ home base for more than seven years now.

Ehmig is a military veteran representing the next generation. Instead of going overseas, he’s fighting a battle blocks away from his home to try to keep his community safe.

Just recently, he bought a house a few blocks from the hospital with his wife and high school sweetheart. She’s a social worker at Advocate Christ.

At times, it’s pretty stressful to be on the front lines of a global pandemic. But the mission is clear, and it gives him a sense of pride. Throughout U.S. history, military veterans have been honored and praised with statues and holidays for the sacrifices they’ve made for the greater good.

Ehmig is a military veteran representing the next generation. Instead of going overseas, he’s fighting a battle blocks away from his home to try to keep his community safe.

“When I walk into work,” he said, “I feel a sense of pride now more than ever.” 

Kelsey Sopchyk is coordinator of media relations & Mike Riopell is manager of media relations for Advocate Aurora Health.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Comments are closed.

Top