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SERVICE IN SCIENCE:
40-Year Roslindale Resident Greg Dumas Working the Front Lines at BIDMC

By RVMS Guest Blogger Jonathan Pappas

Greg Dumas, a long-time Roslindale resident, takes the commuter rail each day from Roslindale Village to his job as Clinical Pharmacist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), just as he has for the last 42 years. 

Dumas spends 50% of his time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the other 50% in the main pharmacy at BIDMC. These days, working in the NICU, comes with elevated stress, as Coronavirus concerns continue to impact daily life.   

“It’s a full day every day, and your mind is always focused on keeping all patients safe,” says the 62-year-old Dumas.  “We’ve had several COVID-19 positive mothers in one of our adult medical ICUs so far.  Fortunately, each of their babies tested negative and are all in good health.”

Dumas explained how the first COVID-19 positive mother who was treated in the adult medical ICU kept testing positive.  It was not until 30 days after delivery before she saw her baby for the first time. 

“The nurses arranged for them to meet the mother in the driveway of the hospital so she could see her baby from her car window.  It was pretty emotional for everyone.”

16 years ago, Dumas became the first pharmacist dedicated to working directly within the BIDMC Neonatal unit as a team member.  He, along with a team of neonatologists, nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists and a dietician, oversee a busy NICU and special care nursery with 62 beds.  It is the pharmacist’s job to ensure that each mother and newborn receives the correct medication and the right dosage (adjusted for their gestational age and weight) at the right time. 

“I have outstanding co-workers, ready to do anything to make sure our patients receive the best care possible,” says Dumas.  “Dr. DeWayne Pursley, our Chief of Neonatology, has always been an outspoken advocate for building a multi-disciplinary team.  This strong sense of “team” is one of the main reasons I look forward to going to work each day, even under these more stressful circumstances. We support and encourage each other to give it our all.”

Dumas is a humble hero, like many of our frontline workers. 

When the HIV outbreak occurred in the 1980s, Dumas was named the Research Pharmacist for the AIDS clinical trial group at Deaconess Hospital.  At the time, there were very few studies being done for treatment.  Many of the early AIDS patients came to his research pharmacy to receive their clinical trial medicines. He was among a small group of pharmacists throughout the country who were the first to manage the medication for AIDS clinical trials. 

In 2002, Dumas became one of the first recipients of the Douglas K. Richardson “How Can I Help You” Award, which is given annually to BIDMC employees who go “above and beyond” their basic responsibilities to provide support benefitting the clinical, teaching, research, and/or community service missions of the Department of Neonatology.

The award honors Doug Richardson’s lifetime achievement in neonatology and as an investigator who made substantive contributions to child health. He died tragically in a bicycling accident in 2002, at the age of 51.

“This recognition continues to be especially meaningful to me because Doug Richardson was an exceptional human being and neonatologist,” says Dumas.  “He was an early mentor of mine.”

Dumas has given lectures about neonatal pharmacy at local universities like Northeastern and Mass College of Pharmacy where he was an adjunct professor for several years. While he has led an inspiring career as a pharmacist, he didn’t know this was going to be his calling when he was growing up in Alfred, Maine. 

Dumas recalls that in 8th grade his father gave him a two-sided piece of paper with the top 50 jobs/industries listed and asked him to look it over and decide what he wanted to do for a career.

Nothing stood out.

In high school, his ski instructor at Sugarloaf Mountain told him stories about his brother who was a pharmacist in North Conway, NH.  This discussion, and potential profession, stayed with him until he went for an informational interview at Mass College of Pharmacy during his senior year of high school.  When the college recruiters mentioned it would be a 5-year commitment, “it scared me away,” said Dumas. 

He and his high school best friend, Ken Chick, decided on the University of Maine, and roomed together Freshman year where they both did well in sports and academics.  After Chick was diagnosed with leukemia later that year and went to Boston to be treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dumas reconsidered his career choices and transferred to Mass College of Pharmacy in 1976. 

The 40-year Roslindale resident hadn’t heard of Rozzie until his MCP class took a field trip to the Arboretum that year.  After meeting and marrying his first wife Lynn in 1980, they bought a triple-decker on Stellman Road where they raised their three children – Lance, Cameron and Carolyn – until they moved to Robert Street in 1985, where Dumas and his second wife Janice currently live. 

“I’ve seen Roslindale really evolve over the years,” says Dumas.  “Back in 1980, there wasn’t much to do.  We didn’t have all the shops and restaurants that we do now.  When Main Streets came (in 1985), that’s when we really started seeing improvements to the neighborhood.  We loved having The Village Market within walking distance (and still do), but when Delfino's, Birch Street Bistro, and Sofia’s Grotto opened up in the early 2000s, it really brought a new dynamic to the neighborhood.”

“Greg and I love being able to walk to the Village for dinner,” says Janice.  “I enjoy the shopping at Joanne Rossman’s, Birch Street House and Garden and, of course, Solera!”

When he was not working at BIDMC, Dumas spent a lot of time at the Parkway Little League Complex in West Roxbury, where his two sons played baseball from 1982-96.  He helped build the refreshment stand during its rehabilitation and was also team manager of his sons’ Lance and Cameron’s Parkway Club Teams.

“My sons and I still reminisce. That’s one thing we always liked and appreciated about Roslindale and West Roxbury – the baseball fields.  It was a big part of our lives for many years.  The Parkway Little League Parade that starts at Fallon Field was one event I looked forward to every season, and I still do. My 7-year-old grandson is now playing Little League and his younger brother will be right behind him. They love baseball, too.”

These days, Greg and Janice continue to support their favorite local Roslindale businesses as much as possible. Even during the quarantine, the couple has made an effort to make purchases or order takeout from each establishment. 

“We want these businesses to succeed; the Village just wouldn’t be the same without them,” Dumas adds.  The couple also enjoy the more recent additions to the neighborhood, including Shanti, Effie’s Kitchen, Distraction Brewery, the Turtle Swamp beer hall in the old Substation, Green T Cafe, and Square Root.  “And of course, the Farmer’s Market.”

“There are a lot of first-time challenges this year for all of us,” says Dumas.  “But at the same time, there will be many bright lights that come out of this pandemic.  Just like the new mothers we treat at BIDMC who continue to amaze me with their courage and resilience, I know that we will bounce back like never before.”