MU alumnus works with firefighters on front lines of COVID-19
Gregory Lind says vigilant use of PPE helps keep Seattle-area first responders safe
April 8, 2020
University of Missouri alumnus Gregory Lind has been working as a nurse practitioner for 30 years in the state of Washington, where the first case of coronavirus was reported in the United States.
Today, the semi-retired Lind provides wellness services to 300 firefighters in the Seattle metro area, many of whom have been on the front lines responding to the pandemic. But so far, only one of his clients has tested positive for COVID-19 — and the exposure happened at home after the firefighter’s wife returned from a trip to Paris, carrying the virus.
Lind said a key to keeping his firefighters healthy has been instilling in them the importance of using personal protective equipment on the job, whether that’s responding to a fire or a pandemic.
“Even after a fire is over, there are all kinds of toxic chemicals in the air,” Lind said. “What can we do to reduce the risk of breathing those in? Keep the mask on, even after the fire is over.”
Hard lessons were learned following the response to the Twin Towers on 911 when many first responders worked the scene without wearing proper PPE, Lind said.
“So many died because of what they breathed in,” he said.
While the state of Washington has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with over 8,300 cases and more than 350 deaths as of April 5, Lind said Washington appears to be flattening its curve and limiting the impact on the hospital system at any one time. He added that one advantage to being the first state to contract the virus is Washington had ready access to PPE supplies, which have since become scarcer.
Lind graduated from MU in 1980 with a master’s degree in nursing. Ten years later, Lind founded the Lake Serene Clinic, a walk-in clinic in the Seattle metro area. The clinic was open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the year and was serving about 90 patients a day when he retired from the business in 2015.
Lind said he owes much of his success in health care to his education at Mizzou.
“I could not do what I am doing today without my graduate education at MU,” he said.
Two MU professors Lind credits with shaping his career are Beth Geden and Gerald Brouder. Today, Geden is a professor emerita of nursing at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. Brouder, who was the first male teacher at SSON, later became interim dean of SSON and then MU provost before finishing his career as president of Columbia College.
“Both of these professors encouraged independent thinking, inspiring lifelong questioning, patient advocacy, human response practice paradigm and facilitating risk taking that shaped who I am today,” he said.
After graduation from MU, Lind served 4 ½ years at a community clinic in Fulton, where he worked side by side with physicians, teaching them how to interact with nurse practitioners on the job. The experience proved invaluable to the rest of his career.
In 2015, Lind and his wife, Diane Lind, gave a gift of $122,500 to the MU school of nursing. The endowed gift created the Gregory and Diane Lind Diversity in Nursing Program, which provides scholarships for underrepresented minority students pursuing undergraduate degrees in nursing. Lind said the gift was meant to help create a sense of belonging for all nursing students at MU. Lind also was an active member of the Sinclair School of Nursing Dean’s Advisory Council and the SSON Capital Campaign Steering Committee and received a Citation of Merit award from the SSON in 2010.
Lind's advice for staying safe and healthy during the pandemic:
- Stay at home.
- Wear a mask when you need to leave home.
- Wash your hands often.
- Practice social distancing.