10-25-2020 Women to Watch - Flipbook - Page 16
DEANNA BRIDGE NAJERA
37, past president, Maryland Academy of Physician Assistants
In the country’s war against the pandemic, Deanna Bridge Najera
has worked to ensure that physician assistants are included in the cavalry.
Najera just completed her yearlong term as president of the Maryland Academy of Physician Assistants, which successfully pushed state
lawmakers to tap physician assistants in the emergency COVID-19 response.
Physician assistants are health professionals certied to provide
care, usually under the supervision of a physician. Najera said she and
her peers have a “taste of everything” in the medical eld.
Working in the emergency department of Carroll Hospital at the
pandemic’s start, Najera sensed constant fear in the air. Walls went
up. Air lters were installed. A single sneeze could put you on edge.
With patients reluctant to enter the emergency room, Najera was furloughed but soon found herself working full-time at the Carroll County Health Department. She is the lead clinician for reproductive health
and serves as a consultant on COVID-19 matters, which includes visiting congregate living facilities facing outbreaks.
“I think my sort of North Star is always doing what’s right ethically,
morally, even if it means being pilloried for it,” she said.
Health ofcer Ed Singer, head of the county health department,
credits Najera with providing critical assistance in developing protocols for operations and contact tracing, supporting testing and crafting
messaging to the public. A spokesperson for the department, Maggie
Kunz, said Najera has helped break down complicated medical issues
“Deanna is a public health champion who understands how community health impacts individual health,” Kunz said.
Najera also provides on-call psychiatric services for students at Gettysburg College and Shippensburg University and seasonal help to a
migrant agricultural workers’ health program.
Her next challenge? A position at MedStar Montgomery Medical
Center in Olney, where she seeks to increase mentorship opportunities and create more places for physician assistants.
— Mary Grace Keller
20, community activist, One Pasadena
In Pasadena, a ZIP code with the most reports of
hate bias incidents in Maryland, a young Black woman
organized two rallies to support the Black Lives Matter
movement. The day of her June rally, Shelyia Brown
was shocked to see hundreds of participants ll a soccer eld: “I felt like I actually did something.” Brown,
a student at Anne Arundel Community College, sought
to bring racial justice to her hometown by increasing
the prole of the anti-racist group One Pasadena and
pressed county ofcials on policing concerns. Said
NAACP chapter President Jackie Allsup: “I commend
her and her generation for picking up the mantle and
moving forward for racial justice.”
— Naomi Harris
PHOTO BY AMY DAVIS
WO M E N T O WAT C H