Amy James Loftis stood out not only for her dedication to service and science, but for her care and compassion for fellow workers in Carolina’s COVID Surveillance Lab. Loftis, as associate lab director, led the tremendous effort to set up the lab so that students could return to campus for the Spring 2021 semester. This spring, she was recognized with a C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award.
In a stressful environment working around the clock, Loftis took care of her staff – including 36 temporary technicians as well as graduate and undergraduate volunteers from Carolina COVID-19 Student Services Corps. Loftis included wellness rooms in her lab design – designated places where team members could take breaks, stocked with aromatherapy supplies, coloring books, snacks, even specially stamped Carolina Together Testing Program M&Ms.
Loftis wrote personalized thank-you cards, rented an ice cream truck, and celebrated Mardi Gras, International Women’s Day, and National Pizza Day to show appreciation and lighten the mood for staff and volunteers. “Because of the pandemic, they had already experienced a bit of burnout and a lot of stress, so it was important to me to have their wellness and their mental health considered. I wanted to make sure they knew they were appreciated,” Loftis said.
During this time, Loftis was working most days from 7 am to midnight and didn’t have a day off from late December until her birthday on March 21.
Three out of this year’s six C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award winners were members of the CTTP team, including Loftis, Amir Barzin, and Susan Fiscus.