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Bill and Paul

Bill Summers is one of the many donors who stepped up during the early stages of the pandemic to support Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. Prior to his retirement, he was chairman and CEO of an investment banking and securities firm.

Paul Lamiell, MSN, RN, CCRN is a clinical nursing director at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus. During the pandemic, he was one of the nurse managers for the Medical ICU. Paul and other front-line caregivers benefited from the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, which provided everything from meals to temporary lodging for those in need.

BILL: Hello, Paul. How are you? 

PAUL: Hi, Bill. Doing well. How about yourself? 

BILL: Great! 

PAUL: I really appreciate everything that you’ve done for our caregivers. It just means so much to all of us. 

BILL: Well, I think you’ve got it a little bit backwards. We’re the ones who are grateful for what you’ve done.  I’m not sure how you message this, because as a parent you don’t like bragging to your children. But your children are going to need to know that their dad is a hero. 

PAUL: The word “hero” gets thrown around a lot. I’m fortunate that I worked with a lot of great people. It wasn’t about individuals in this pandemic. It was about our entire team and our entire community. This was our time to say: “We’re going to get through this together, and we’re going to emerge stronger.” I think we have. 

BILL: Particularly during the early days, we were seeing stories that made us wonder, “Who are these men and women who are risking their lives for us?” What was running through your mind? 

PAUL: It was the unknown. What is this going to mean for the world? How many people are going to be impacted by this? Then I shrunk it down: What about the people in my life? What about my family? What about my team?  That uncertainty motivated me to say, “We need to be here. Our patients are counting on us. Our community is counting on us. We need to answer that call.” 

BILL: Every day you were going back into the breach. What was that like?

PAUL: It was a true all-hands-on-deck effort because that’s what our patients needed. Being able to stand side by side as a team across all of our disciplines, across all of our professions, across everyone’s background … it really demonstrated the best in everybody.  

BILL: We were all on this crazy journey, not understanding it. But one thing we did understand was the sacrifice that you and your colleagues made. The gratitude is unlimited.

PAUL: Likewise on our side. While we were there in the hospital, we thought, “Who are these donors?” What was your motivation? 

BILL: I’ve always felt that the quality of life in any community is directly proportionate to the commitment of the citizenry. How devoted are the citizens to where they live and work?  Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to financially support the broader community in different ways. It makes us feel good about ourselves, too, if we’re able to help others. The more we give, the better we feel. 

PAUL: Is there any message that you would want to give to our caregivers? 

BILL: We appreciate you. God bless you. What you have done is truly extraordinary.