A summer social media campaign called #FrontlineCougs is recognizing members of the Washington State University community who are stepping up to serve in essential roles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The individuals featured thus far range from an electrician who is helping keep WSU Pullman running to a veterinarian and Coug alumna working at Banfield Pet Hospital in Las Vegas.

Regardless of their occupation, WSU’s #FrontlineCougs all have one thing in common. They continue to work on-site in critical positions while the coronavirus continues to disrupt day-to-day life.

Take for instance Jenna Newcomb Barkhimer, an emergency medicine and family medicine physician assistant for Skyline Health in White Salmon, Washington. The 2003 kinesiology and exercise science alumna played a crucial role setting up the hospital’s virtual visit program at the onset of COVID-19 in Washington. She also has embraced the opportunity to help on a public relations front, representing Skyline Health in multiple radio interviews. Barkhimer knows her efforts aren’t going unnoticed by those outside the hospital.

#FrontlineCougs Tim Ismailov and Matt Turcotte of Facilities Services on the Pullman campus continue to work in their essential on-campus roles performing plumbing, pipe fitting and steam fitting.

“One of the most rewarding parts of working during the pandemic has been seeing the community come together to support healthcare workers,” Barkhimer said. “Many of our local industries have come together to ensure staff and patient safety and I am humbled to work in a community that brings together all of its resources to care for its own.”

Although Barkhimer’s role might be one that people immediately identify as an“essential” position, a goal of #FrontlineCougs is to also spotlight those working in jobs that the public might not realize are essential.

Megan Elsarelli is a veterinarian at Banfield Pet Hospital in Las Vegas. The College of Veterinary Medicine double graduate (13, ’16) has provided preventative care and direct treatment to sick and injured animals during the outbreak. With everything going on, she says it can be easy to forget that veterinarians are showing up to work every morning at hospitals and clinics to keep our animals healthy.

Throughout the pandemic, Elizabeth Lee has worked in her essential position as a probation supervisor at Benton-Franklin Juvenile Justice Center.

“During this pandemic, I have appreciated that people value their pets as part of the family,” Elsarelli said.

#FrontlineCougs is currently running twice per week on the Washington State University System Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you know an essential worker who deserves recognition, please send an email to social.media@wsu.edu. We would like to honor as many Cougar alumni, faculty/staff and students as possible.