Local health care workers share pandemic experience on frontlines

Coronavirus

Penn State Shenango held a zoom meeting Thursday with some frontline workers

(WKBN) – Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve all had to go through changes. Even more so for frontline workers.

Penn State Shenango held a zoom meeting Thursday with some local health care workers. They talked about how their experience has been since early March.

Deanna Ford, with Mercy Health, realized early on change was coming when visiting her mother in a nursing home.

“We were able to gather, but I knew that was not going to last very long,” Ford said.

Hospitals had to get ready for the worst, making preparations by limiting contact.

Dr. George Garrow with Primary Health Network said they acted quickly.

“We rapidly adapted to new and novel ways we can get to patients and their families,” Garrow said.

Zoom and Telemedicine became a critical tool. But on the inside, nurses and doctors were changing their work flow.

Respiratory therapist Chelsea Blakely points a picture of colleagues in full gear fighting the pandemic.

“That is kind of the what we look like on a daily basis. That’s us eight to 12 hours a day. Some of us even work 16 hours, depending on if we need the coverage or not,” Blakely said.

Supplies became limited. Ford remembers days where she heard that they only had three ventilators.

But these health care workers didn’t just work with COVID patients. Sometimes they became the patient.

“I started to get a low grade fever, like 99.8, nothing too bad. Then all of a sudden, in the middle of the day, I lost all taste and smell,” said nursing student Kayla Crawford.

Deanna Ford contracted COVID, too. During the time she had it, she started to worry about her family.

“Making sure they knew, oh boy, did you know that you are a beneficiary?” she said.

Garrow advises people to take time to enjoy life, and he shed some light on the end of the tunnel.

“We are gearing up for out first shipment of COVID vaccines in December,” Garrow said.

That could mark the beginning of the end for the pandemic.

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