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Medical heroes: Our own caped crusaders
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Dr. Jennifer Leoniak, Dr. Edward Cho, Dr. Phillip Cusano and Emanuel Medical Center CEO Lani Dickinson are a few of the medical heroes protecting lives every day.

The coronavirus has turned the world upside down.  During this time of crisis, healthcare workers are the frontline soldiers who battle against impossible odds and increasingly challenging circumstances.


These women and men provide us with hope at a time when it feels like there is none. Doctors, nurses, clinicians, and other healthcare workers selflessly put the needs of the community before their own.  This is equally true for the maintenance staff that keeps hospitals clean and germ-free.  Their work is as crucial to our survival as the services provided by healthcare professionals. 


These healthcare heroes are keeping our community safe, putting our lives and our families before their own.


Sometimes, it is not enough to say, “thank you.”  Nevertheless, when you are sheltered in place, these two words become even more important.  They not only convey admiration and respect; they carry an additional message: what you do every hour of every day is important to all of us.


At Emanuel Medical Center, three doctors are leading the charge to ensure our community has access to the best medical care possible during this critical period.  The decisions they make that protect us all.


These three doctors are not thinking about how much they will be paid or whether they will receive recognition or accolades for their work. They are committed to their community and making sure that, as the virus spreads, we are ready and able to respond.  


Dr. Jennifer Leoniak, D.O., is our infectious disease guru and our guiding light through this darkness.  She is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease.  Her leadership and expertise ensure Emanuel Medical Center is prepared for whatever challenges arise. 


Dr. Edward Cho, D.O., leads Emanuel Medical Center Emergency Medicine. His efforts ensure that when a patient impacted by the novel coronavirus enters the emergency department, it triggers an action plan that addresses the needs of patients, their families, hospital employees and, our entire community.  Since the first coronavirus message came to EMC, Dr. Cho has led an effort to ensure the hospital and the community would be ready. 


Dr. Phillip Cusano, M.D., is the chief of the medical staff.  A trained anesthesiologist, he works daily to bring together all medical professionals within the system so that we operate from a single strategy with a single focus upon the patient, the family and the community.  There is nothing glamourous about being the medical chief of staff; actually, quite the contrary.  Half the day you are juggling the egos of other doctors while performing your medical responsibilities.  The other half of the day, collaborating with the hospital CEO, Dr. Leoniak and Dr. Cho to ensure EMC is ready to handle any crisis.


Lani Dickinson, the CEO, keeps the hospital moving forward every day.  Like her physician colleagues, her days are long and often endless.  She is a serious leader who at a time of medical crisis such as this one, is the kind of person you want in charge.  She remains unflappable, determined and caring.


Drs. Leoniak, Cho, and Cusano are true heroes, protecting our lives every day.  They don’t wear capes but are real-life caped crusaders.  They may never be household names and don’t seek recognition.  In partnership With Lani Dickinson, they make up a healthcare leadership team that is second to none.  They are women and men focused on quality care for our patients and their families.  What else could a community ask for?


Thank you, caped crusaders, for giving each of us hope.


— Jeffrey Lewis is the President and CEO of Legacy Health Endowment and a member of the EMC Hospital Governing Board.  The views expressed are his own.