As I reflect on the good work we have accomplished preparing for COVID across Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital, I am struck by the commitment, dedication and hard work of our team members throughout our organization.
Community members across Knox and Waldo counties have shared their appreciation in so many ways and we are grateful for their support.
Numerous articles in the press have described doctors and nurses as heroes, and with good reason. As a physician, I am keenly grateful to every one of our nurses for all they do on behalf of our patients. And, we need to grow the circumference of the spotlight to shine on all the other heroes in our hospitals and long term care facilities. I would like to share with you a few of my personal heroes who may not receive as much recognition on a day to day basis.
The list includes many people, though I would like to first mention our environmental service workers, nursing assistants and EMT’s/paramedics. These care team members see the delivery of health care up close and personal on a daily basis. Caring for patients can be a gritty affair and this group of workers does not hesitate to wade in when patients are at their most vulnerable and need our care the most. They show up every day to work behind the scenes in ways that too often go unnoticed. There isn’t an emergency department around that could function without them.
Our Environmental Services colleagues make our entire facility safe for all patients. Donning personal protective equipment (PPE), they turn over rooms after a COVID-19 patient is discharged to ensure it is ready for the next patient. It is a three-hour process that requires incredible focus as they sterilize every surface in the room. What they really do is create the safe environment we need to fight COVID-19. We could not do it without them.
Other heroes include everyone in the maintenance departments. With an innovative spirit and can-do attitude, they found ways to convert standard hospital rooms into the negative pressure rooms that are best for treating patients with contagious infections. They have built walls, installed new doors, erected tents for drive-thru testing and so much more.
The heroes include the nutritional services staff, who make the food for patients and staff. They have developed new techniques to ensure the safety of the meals they prepare and deliver. The nourishment they provide keeps our patients strong and ready to overcome this challenge.
On a visit to NASA in 1962, President John F. Kennedy stepped away from the official tour to speak with a person he noticed sweeping the floor.
"Hi, I'm Jack Kennedy,” the president said. “What are you doing?"
"Well, Mr. President," the gentleman responded, "I'm helping to put a man on the moon."
The reality is that every single employee who walks through our doors – whether they work directly with patients or serve in a vital support role – is the hero that our community most needs right now.
Here at PBMC and WCGH, we use the term “care team member” to describe the people we work with. It is not an exclusive term just for doctors and nurses. It is an inclusive term that celebrates the role every single person here plays in caring for our patients, our community and each other.
It took an entire team to get to the moon, and it will take every member of our team to beat COVID-19. Together we will get the job done.