BRATTLEBORO—Positive attitudes, well-informed care, and a passel of patience have earned Matt Dove and John Lindenthal each Employee of the Year status at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.
“BMH has been recognizing employees with the Employee of the Year award since 1980,” says Gina Pattison, the hospital’s director of marketing and development. “Employees receive a parking space, their name added to the ‘Employee of the Year’ plaque in the main hallway, and a monetary gift.”
Since 2018, BMH has honored two employees each year: one clinical employee and one non-clinical employee. Both Dove and Lindenthal have worked at BMH for just over three years.
Modest and grateful
Lindenthal was nominated by the operating room staff. His colleagues say the operating room housekeeper always comes to work with a smile and friendly greeting, calling him a “cherished part of the OR team.”
He is often called upon by his supervisor to train new environmental services staff members. He “patiently and repeatedly” instructs them in proper cleaning techniques and using safe practices and safety equipment to be “thorough and safe.”
“I was very, very, very surprised,” says Lindenthal. “I appreciate it very much. I’m not much of a talker, but I love working here. And I love the people I work with. That’s my favorite part.”
He was touched after the award ceremony to find that when he got back to the OR all his colleagues were lined up to applaud and congratulate him. There was even a cake — his favorite.
“Of course,” he says.
Colleagues say Lindenthal’s knowledge of proper disinfectant protocols is up to date and he is well informed regarding current CDC guidelines concerning Covid.
“We are so much richer and better for having him as a part of our family,” they say.
“Our whole team was so thrilled to learn John received the award,” says Lindenthal’s supervisor Susan Caffery, director of environmental services and purchasing. “While he is very shy and often avoids the spotlight, John is so deserving of it shining brightly on him.”
“He consistently goes above and beyond his routine environmental services responsibilities to make sure our operating rooms run smoothly and are in the highest sterile condition,” she continues. “He is always kind, helpful, and friendly to his colleagues within the operating room as well as our patients and visitors.”
OR Anesthesia Technologist Kerry Binney says Lindenthal is “interested and inquisitive about all that we do in the operating room and he has taken it upon himself to learn about all of the equipment, including new equipment that others don’t know as well.”
“He has learned so much about what happens in the operating room, and without him things are harder; there is so much more work,” says Binney. “He really is unique. He goes above and beyond in what he does and is always so pleasant and friendly. He is such an important part of our team.”
Patient and passionate
Matt Dove is a nurse practitioner in the emergency department.
“Matt represents BMH in an incredible positive manner, both at work and in the community,” says Alison P.R. Kapadia, M.D., BMH emergency department medical director. “He consistently advocates for patient safety and patient-centered care. Matt is an excellent clinician. He also excels at building coalitions to improve patient care. He is an absolute pleasure to work with. He truly raises up the people around him, including his peers, his patients, and his supervisors.”
Dove says the award means more than an honor for him and Lindenthal.
“What an absolute honor to receive this award alongside John this year,” Dove says. “While I’m extremely grateful to be recognized as one BMH employee, it really emphasizes the daily work we do in the emergency department and the inspiration of the 600-plus BMH employees on the front lines of the pandemic over the last year.”
Dove says all personnel at the hospital “have all been through so much that I don’t think I would be alone in saying that 2020 was one of the most challenging years of my professional career and personal life. In the early part of the pandemic there was so much uncertainty — so much fear for our loved ones, community, and our own health.”
“What kept me going was looking at the [masked] faces of my co-workers as they unflinchingly dug in and showed up every single day facing the same fears and uncertainty as I did,” he continues. “What this award ultimately means to me is sharing our triumph over adversity and the hope for our collective resiliency as we continue to serve and heal as a community.”
Dove went on to recognize that BMH continues to “champion the work in the community through our Healthworks initiative in collaboration with Groundworks, HCRS [Health Care and Rehabilitation Services], and the Retreat.”
“At the height of the pandemic, I am proud that BMH senior leadership supported a team of providers, including Dr. Alison Kapadia, Angela Miller, Al Koonz, Rebecca Burns, and myself as we went to local hotel sites to provide in-person care to those experiencing housing insecurity,” Dove says.
For well over a year, the providers in the consortium have “supported nearly 100 people, many of whom had not seen any type of medical providers in decades,” he says. “We have stabilized high blood pressure, treated diabetes, cleaned ears, helped toes, and stabilized psychiatric crises, and connected them to definitive care.”
Dove says Healthworks has amplified the work started many years ago by the original group and shows what “can be achieved when we work together.”
“Matt works tirelessly daily to help patients in the ED, the Progressive Care Unit (PCU), and through Groundworks to provide psychiatric care at a time when psychiatric care is not only difficult to establish, but also because of Covid, there are so many barriers,” adds Courtney Peters, an emergency department nurse.
Koonz met Dove while working in the ER when the pandemic hit. They also both work at Groundworks Collaborative, where she is a community health nurse connecting folks to the formal health care system and where Dove, who is certified in psychiatry, consults with patients regarding mental health–related issues.
“He’s the most competent nurse practitioner I’ve ever met,” Koonz says. “He’s incredibly brilliant intellectually, but he’s also dedicated his time to caring for people that are otherwise left out in our medical system. He’s very giving of his time, very passionate about social justice work through health care in the community.”
Koonz says Dove’s compassion is enormous, and key to that is being “aware of how you approach someone.”
“He embraces the ‘harm reduction approach,’ caring for people where they are. It’s what our community in Brattleboro really needs. He provides trauma-informed care, which is approaching any client or patient with an understanding they likely have some background of trauma that informs how they interact with you,” she says.
“Matt snagged me from the ER because he was so excited about the work happening in the community with Groundworks, so he’s a colleague but he’s also a mentor. Matt has really an endless amount of patience. It’s remarkable. His ability to hold the complexities of individuals and what they’re balancing is incredible.”
Dr. Jason Veith also speaks glowingly of Dove’s contributions.
“Matt is a godsend to the people of Brattleboro and BMH,” Veith says. “I work with him in the emergency department with our mental health crisis patients. He sees all of our patients and can speak to them in a way that soothes their mental being and gets them the care they need.
“He is very devoted to BMH. He gives 110 percent to every patient, every time. Our department has made great strides with mental health care since his involvement. He has done stellar work with us and the community.”
“I honestly feel the community owes him a great debt he would never collect, given his compassion and love for our community,” Veith says.