SIDNEY – Hope Wickersham and Sandy Scharenberg, nurses who work with critically ill patients in Wilson Health’s Critical Care Unit, want community members to know COVID-19 is real.
Scharenberg and Wickersham have been on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. They jointly answered questions by email about their experience and said they want people to take the disease seriously.
“Please continue to practice social distancing and utilize personal protective equipment as recommended by the CDC,” they wrote. “Continue to practice GOOD HANDWASHING AT ALL TIMES.”
According to the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department, more than a quarter of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Shelby County involve health care workers and first responders. However, Scharenberg and Wickersham said none of their coworkers have tested positive.
“We are fortunate that our community has not experienced the devastation that our fellow nurses in New York, Michigan and other high profile areas has during this crisis,” the Wilson Health nurses wrote, “sending prayers to everyone.”
Wickersham and Scharenberg said the skills they learned during nursing school, through continuing education and from hospital policies and procedures have prepared them for situations like the world is facing now.
Wilson Health also has taken precautions to protect its staff and patients including temperature checks and screening of anyone entering the hospital. Everyone in the hospital is required to wear a face mask, and visitor restrictions have been implemented.
“Linda Smith is our infection control specialist here at Wilson Health,” the nurses wrote, “she is amazing, she keeps us all up to date on infection control practices to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Care for COVID-19 patients requires additional precautions, but they receive the same individualized care as every patient at Wilson Health, the nurses said.
“Every patient we care for is considered special and unique,” Wickersham and Scharenberg wrote.
“All hospital staff work very hard to provide the community with quality care. It doesn’t matter what area you may work in all positions are vital to the organization when providing quality safe care to our patients.”
The biggest challenge the nurses have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic has been dealing with social isolation. They’ve been separated from family and friends, they said, and haven’t had the freedom to perform normal activities.
“The biggest challenge during this pandemic is social distancing from family and friends,” Wickersham and Scharenberg wrote. “My heart goes out to the families of patients in the hospital who can’t visit because of the restriction. This restriction is difficult for many and hopefully will not last much longer.”
The nurses are grateful for the community support they’ve received and the people who have complied with visitor restrictions and personal protective equipment recommendations. They’ve also enjoyed the donations they have received, which included special treats from Wilson Health management for National Nurses Week that began Wednesday.
“We have received many donations of masks and ear savers which has been much appreciated,” Scharenberg and Wickersham wrote.
“Nurses week has consisted of special treats from the managers and continued appreciation for the work we do every day. Every day is nurse’s day when you work for such a great organization.”
Wickersham and Scharenberg are hopeful about the future and the health care industry’s ability to combat COVID-19.
“Knowing that our health care system is the best in the world and our organization has been diligent in implementing the appropriate guidelines to ensure safety for the community, patients and staff,” the nurses wrote, “and knowing that we will soon have a vaccination for this virus is comforting to us.”
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.