Superheroes don’t just fly around wearing capes. They also work tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of others, even in a time of crisis.

At USC, “superheroes” are doctors, nurses, hospitality staff, safety employees and more. In honor of National Superheroes Day, USC Employee Gateway is celebrating all the USC superheroes working amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Gateway will share a special Photo of the Day daily to thank these frontline workers. Students, faculty and staff can join in on the celebration too by downloading their Zoom background to show their support.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has removed much of the university community from campus, USC’s Department of Public Service has continued working to keep the remaining staff and students safe while on campus. Assistant Chief of DPS David Carlisle told Annenberg Media in a phone interview that the presence of a global pandemic does not minimize the DPS’ services — which are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“We have a duty to protect the University and students, faculty, staff, and visitors, so our duties must continue in spite of the pandemic,” Carlisle said. “I am happy to be of service to the USC community. I am a Trojan alumni and a longtime member of the university staff, and it's an honor to work for them.”

DPS officers are required to fill out a medical questionnaire and get their temperatures taken before conducting their shifts and are required to wear protective gear as well. “It’s a different way of protecting the USC community, but it’s something that must be done,” Carlisle said.

Robin Krasner, a clinical process architect at Keck Medicine of USC, told Annenberg Media in a phone interview that she has been working as an ICU nurse for the past 25 years. Krasner said her new role, which focuses on improving the clinical process, no longer requires her to stay bedside with patients, but she still has a close connection with the medical workers working at the bedside.

In the face of COVID-19, Krasner’s team has been helping the administrators to develop new procedures and processes maps to streamline medical staff’s work and communication, such as managing donors’ emails or personal protective equipment.

“The positive thing that's come out of it is people have really come together and shown their really good side and wanting to do whatever they can to help,” Krasner said.

During the pandemic, Krasner said most of her team’s work can be done remotely, but sometimes she has to go to the hospital in-person to create and guide the new processes, such as transporting COVID-19 patients to different rooms.

“We have been able to really help out those frontline staff by creating some processes that will help them work through their day as far as for getting tasks completed, and making sure they're doing it in a way that we're not cross-contaminating anyone, and putting patients in the right places and making sure that we're keeping everyone safe,” Krasner said.

Before COVID-19 placed a halt in people’s life, Krasner said she spent almost half of her time in the past 18 months teaching medical employees and patients, focusing on a project about enhanced recovery after surgery. However, Krasner said the pandemic made her team lose the opportunity to meet fellow employees and patients in person.

“I'm a people person. I've been a nurse for a long time, so I need that kind of direct human contact,” Krasner said.

Krasner also mentioned that many frontline health workers in ICU have to work overtime during the pandemic, as some of their co-workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and left their positions.

“When you lose a few staff members, because they have to go out on administrative leave, [or] because they test positive for COVID, then you're even more short [of staff],” Krasner said. “So I think it's been challenging for the staff at the front line.”

Like a true hero, Krasner still yearns to do more to help with her expertise.

“I’ve been actually struggling a little bit with the fact that I’m not working at the bedside right now,” Krasner said. “Because I feel like I should be there. I feel like there’s a limited amount of people that have the skills that can take care of these patients that are really critically ill. And I feel like I should be there helping.”