Laura Hachani ’98 is prepared to be on the front line of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, it’s sort of the calm before the storm, but we’ve been told to prepare ourselves for calamity; for what we’re seeing in New York and Italy,” said Hachani, a physician assistant at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

Working in the internal medicine department, she regularly takes care of patients who have suffered strokes or have cardiac or lung conditions, and she anticipates being pulled into the emergency room at a moment’s notice.

Though frightened by the unknown circumstances to come, Hachani said she leans on her foundation of service for others, which was established by her family and church and then further enhanced during her time at Virginia Tech.

Ut Prosim meant a lot to me at my time at Tech as a member of the service sorority, Chi Delta Alpha, but it has never carried more weight for me than right now,” Hachani said. “I am scared about what is coming for my patients, my family, my co-workers, and myself, but I know that I have a purpose to fill and God put me here for a reason. I think that’s the only thing that could make someone really drag themselves into what’s going on with this.”

Virginia Tech is joining many around the world in signaling solidarity with medical professionals like Hachani with the ringing of bells or chimes. The carillon at the top of Burruss Hall will add a new 7 a.m. bell, along with a corresponding 7 p.m. bell, to honor workers by representing the changing hospital shifts at these times of day.

Laura Hachani is a physician assistant in the Baltimore, Maryland area.

“That really helps give people encouragement to know we’re doing this for a greater good,” said Hachani of the ringing. “Just to think you have people backing you and supporting you and realize you have people who understand it’s tough what we’re going through. That’s a really big deal in times like this.”

While at Tech, Hachani majored in dietetics and nutrition in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and has gone on to work as a physician assistant for the past 15 years. She lives in the Baltimore area with her husband, Reda Hachani; daughter, Bella; and son, Zachary.

Her schedule normally includes two 12-hour shifts each week, but medical staff has been told to be on-call at all hours during the coming weeks.

Hachani said she doesn’t fear as much for her own safety as she does some of her older coworkers. And while she attempts to do all she can to look out for them, she encourages Hokies around the world to do the same.

“I know how innovative and service-minded Hokies are, so just think about anything you can do, little or small, for people. I think that’s how we get through this, by embracing that spirit that we’re all in this together,” she said.

— Written by Travis Williams