Julianna Doniere fights three epidemics — COVID, opioid addiction and gun violence — from her ER
By Jordyn Noennig
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 13, 2022
Dr. Julie Doniere is one of USA TODAY’s Women of the Year, a recognition of women across the country who have made a significant impact. The annual program is a continuation of Women of the Century, a 2020 project that commemorated the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. Meet this year’s honorees at womenoftheyear.usatoday.com.
Dr. Julianna “Julie” Doniere works in hospital emergency rooms in some of Milwaukee’s poorest ZIP codes, fighting three epidemics simultaneously: opioid addiction, gun violence and COVID-19.
But she doesn’t just treat patients and send them on their way.
When she noticed how many patients were struggling with addiction, she brought in recovery coaches and started one of the first programs in a Wisconsin emergency room to give away Narcan. When she saw too many young, otherwise healthy, men come into the hospital with gunshot wounds, she helped get gun locks to give away to help prevent accidental shootings. And as her staff, from custodians to physicians, has worked day after day battling a pandemic that seems to have no end, she checks in on them, making sure they are getting breaks and the support they need.
Every day in the emergency room, Doniere sees the lifesaving work of healthcare. But she also sees the problems doctors have yet to solve — and its those problems that drive the work she does today.
Doniere, a physician with Emergency Medicine Specialists working in the emergency departments at Ascension’s St. Joseph and St. Francis hospitals, is USA TODAY’s Women of the Year honoree from Wisconsin.
She has seen patients go from being homeless, unable to work, and visiting regularly trying to get opioids and other drugs, to finding work, a place to live, and freedom from their addiction.
“We had a kid come in and he overdosed on heroin. This young man was extremely angry, yelling a myriad of obscenities. We asked him to wait just two minutes to learn about our free Narcan program,” Doniere said. “The pharmacist started talking about how to give Narcan. He started to cry and said that we were the first people to care.”
Her next goal is to get a recovery center on the north side of Milwaukee, where some of the city’s poorest residents live…