Frontline Heroes: DC lawyer dons scrubs in pandemic response

EDITOR’S NOTE: During the coronavirus pandemic, there are people throughout the community working on the front lines. WTOP is honoring essential personnel through its Frontline Heroes campaign. Each day, WTOP chooses two nominees, awards each $100 and donates another $100 to Feed the Fight DC, a D.C.-based nonprofit supporting local restaurants, health care workers and first responders during the pandemic. Some of those honorees will be spotlighted on WTOP.com.

Esperanza Sanchez has found herself fighting a two-fronted battle against COVID-19.

The Northeast D.C. resident is a full-time lawyer at the U.S. Department of Labor, where she has worked on guidance to protect workers from the coronavirus.

She has also found herself on the frontlines of the medical response as a registered nurse on the rapid response team at the George Washington University Hospital, which she describes as a team of ICU nurses that responds to in-house emergencies.

“It’s like your in-house EMS,” she said.

Esperanza Sanchez in protective gear. Sanchez is a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Labor who has decided to fight COVID-19 head-on.
Esperanza Sanchez in protective gear. Sanchez is a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Labor who has decided to fight COVID-19 head-on.

Group photo is of her coworkers “who have stepped up to create GW’s covid unit.”

Sanchez and Labor Department coworker Philip Vieira, who nominated her.

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Esperanza Sanchez in protective gear. Sanchez is a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Labor who has decided to fight COVID-19 head-on.

“I knew I wanted to go to law school when I was still in nursing school,” Sanchez said. She stayed active in nursing, and then the pandemic hit.

“In theory, I was just supposed to cover people’s vacation,” she said.

But she soon found herself working weekends in the hospital, on top of her day job.

“I just felt like the right thing to do was to step up,” she said. “It feeds my soul to do it; it would hurt me to not.”

She admits caring for COVID-19 patients is tough work.

The virus has “really challenged everything we know about how we deliver care,” she said, but added that the work is rewarding. “You feel pure and utter joy” when someone gets released.



She was also quick to give praise to her hospital co-workers.

“[They] created this big old COVID unit out of nothing. They should be really proud of themselves.”

Philip Vieira, who works with Sanchez at the Labor Department, nominated her as a WTOP Frontline Hero, calling it “quite amazing that she’s able to juggle those two careers at the same time.”

“She’s one of the top frontline heroes here in the Washington region,” Vieira said

For her work, Sanchez has won $100 from WTOP and Northwest Federal Credit Union.

Know people who would be good candidates for WTOP’s Frontline Heroes award? Nominate them online, and their actions could be recognized on-air.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

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