Testing Hero: Greg Bowman, RN

Testing Hero: Greg Bowman, RN

Rush University Medical Center

In the early days of the pandemic, Covid-19 testing was sparse in Chicago. When Rush University Medical Center set up its drive-thru testing clinic in mid-March, Greg Bowman, RN, a registered nurse in the neurosurgery department, jumped into action.

For four weeks, the Indiana native swabbed hundreds of patients in a small white tent off Harrison Street, set between two hospital buildings. Patients who had been exposed to Covid-19 or were exhibiting symptoms would schedule an appointment, drive into the tent, and take a nasal swab test without leaving their car.

Greg Bowman quote

“Our peak was around 350 tests a day,” Bowman says. “My personal high was swabbing 50 patients in a day, and my positive rate was 38%.”

The test involves inserting a swab up one passage of the nose toward the ear, then spinning it around twice to get an adequate sample. Ideally it takes about 10 seconds, “but it feels like an eternity if you’re the patient,” he says. While some individuals barely flinched, Bowman had to almost chase others around their car to get the test done.

Bowman is married, has one daughter, and is studying for his doctorate in nursing practice at Rush University. He recently transitioned to a new job as a community health registered nurse, working on the Covid-19 isolation unit that Rush established for the homeless population at A Safe Haven.

“I know there’s some sacrifice involved and some degree of danger to myself and those I love,” he says about being on the front line. “But I have a profound sense of fulfillment doing this. Most of us who got into nursing signed up because we derive a sense of fulfillment serving our communities.”

Originally published in the Fall 2020/Winter 2021 print issue. Photo by Jim Vondruska