Asha Mumin works as a microbiologist at Allina Health’s central lab. She and her colleagues often work behind closed doors in a role that isn’t widely visible to other employees or patients. But it’s a job that can be easily described in two words: scientific sleuth.“When a patient has an infection, they go to their doctor and the doctor collects a specimen,” Asha explains. “We receive that specimen and we culture it, and we determine what kind of infection the patient has.” Once the microbiologists crack that code, they then play a central role in helping patients fight their illness. “We also determine what kind of antibiotics should be given to the patient to treat the infection.”
“A person comes to us at their most vulnerable time in their life. So you have to cherish that. And you have to have compassion. I don’t see them, so I don’t have a face associated with them, but I have a lot of empathy towards them. The way I treat every specimen that I handle is as though it’s a loved one.”
Part One: "The Detective"
Asha has a special appreciation for compassion and vulnerability because of her background. Originally from Somalia, Asha was being looked after by a friend, since her mother was away on business, when the civil war broke out there. It was a moment when her whole life changed. In just days, Asha found herself moving from town to town, all the way to the coast of Kenya.
“At the border, they took us off the boats, and then they put us in an empty zoo camp. That’s where the people were taken to.” And it’s where Asha lived, among hordes of other refugees, never knowing if she would see her mother again. Until the almost unthinkable happened.
Part Two: "The Human Zoo"
“I was living in that zoo for about three to four months when my mom saw me. I saw my mom, but my eyes would not believe that it was my mom. And I just literally stood there without doing anything, until somebody had to nudge me and say, ‘That’s your mom, go and give her a hug.’”
Reflecting on her family’s journey, she understands that those experiences have influenced who she is today, both personally and professionally. “I do the best I can in every day that I live. So that when I go to bed at night, I will never, ever regret that day.”
Brad Nelson, a Registered Nurse in Buffalo, has been with Allina Health for seven years. Along the way, he’s found a way to connect the good he does at the hospital with a passion he has outside of work: cycling.