By Del Deduit | Local Happenings
Healthcare workers are being appreciated and celebrated for the job they do every day. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, residents and patients in Scioto County have noticed how hard people in the healthcare field have worked to ensure the safety of others.
Although most enter the industry to help, some admit it’s nice to be recognized. “To be honest, it’s been great to be showered with gifts and food lately,” Jessi Miller said. “But that’s not why we do this. But recently we have been thanked by everyone, and I have to admit I kind of like it.”
Miller is a respiratory therapist at Southern Ohio Medical Center, and is on the front line in the fight against the coronavirus. Her patients are at high risk for catching the virus.
The way she prepares for work now has changed over the past several weeks. New protocols mean she spends more time getting ready to enter a patient’s room to administer breathing treatments or other procedures related to respiratory diseases.
“We are more cautious now about who and how we give treatments because it can increase the spread of the virus,” she said. “It’s just an adjustment we had to make for everyone’s safety.”
Her job has also taken on a new role. Since visitors and family are not permitted to enter the room, some patients are lonely and need someone to talk with for a few moments.
“We not only give medical support, but emotional support right now,” Miller added. “Some are suffering alone, and we make sure to spend more time with them and comfort them. The normal visit from me is now taking a little longer, and it’s okay."
When the news of the virus was a potential threat at the beginning of the year, Dr. David Byers said SOMC put together a planning committee to meet the situation head on. Byers, who is the Senior Medical Director for Infectious Diseases, said the hospital was out ahead of the virus.
“It’s been amazing how all of this has evolved,” he said. “In February, we had an inkling that this might be an issue in the hospital and with the local health department. I believe health officials and the community have been well-prepared.”
Byers, who has been at SOMC since 2013, said residents of Scioto County have done a good job in obeying the social distancing guidelines, and that is one reason the county has seen fewer cases than most throughout Ohio.
“We remain ready and vigilant, and we are in no way out of the woods yet,” he added. “There are plans in place to reopen businesses, and that has potential to increase the risk of exposure.”
Byers is grateful to the supply chain for the hospital, and he said workers have never been without what they needed to do their jobs. “A big thank you goes out to them because we had--and have--what we need,” he said.
“We had all the masks and gowns and cleaning supplies we needed, and that takes some pressure off.” One area that has been impacted by the stay-at-home suggestions are visits to the hospital for normal health issues or even emergencies.
“We want to make sure that people who experience a health concern can still come in and get checked out by a provider,” he said. “Right now, we are seeing less volume of patients because some are cautious not to come. If they have a need, they should come in.”
Miller and Byers both said their jobs have changed “dramatically” since the pandemic started. Both are committed to providing the best care they can give when patients need it the most. “It’s what we are trained to do,” Miller added. “When we get thanked, it’s nice, but we would do it anyway.”
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.