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It Takes A Village

Imagine if the question, “What has challenged you most in life?” was an option when choosing your password security question. Many of us would read that and immediately respond in all capital letters: COVID.

Since March 2020, COVID-19 has challenged our everyday lives, from canceled life events to relationships to grocery shopping and everything in between. It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered our lives in both small and enormous ways, but as Kendra Kretzschmer, Scheurer’s Vice-President of Patient Care Services and Director of Nursing says and believes, “Tragedy drives teamwork.”

This statement could not be truer. Even though everyone has been affected differently by the virus, we have all been navigating these hard times, together.

There was a period of time when it felt as if we were in our own little bubble here in the Thumb. Cases were low and we were not experiencing the frequent hardships of the pandemic that many others were facing. Judy Smith, manager of Scheurer Primary Care - Pigeon described COVID-19 as ‘unlike anything she has ever seen.’

She explained, “There were days we did not see a single individual. Then again, that's not necessarily a bad thing in the middle of a pandemic because it meant our community was staying home and staying safe.” However, it was inevitable that we would not remain so lucky throughout the entire pandemic.

“A year later, we started seeing more and more cases. This past March and April, we were hit hard. However, our staff all worked together to help one another out. Providers were lending a helping hand to each other, and it wasn't just ‘my patient’ or ‘your patient,’ but it was instead, ‘our’ patient. It was truly amazing to see everyone come together for the greater good of the community and to help one another get through these unprecedented times.”

On top of managing their daily tasks and responsibilities, the Scheurer team acquired enough PPE to protect our workforce and patients and processed all of the necessary tests related to the pandemic. Laboratory Services at Scheurer handled over 12,000 COVID-19 tests through May 2021, over 5,000 employee COVID-19 tests were conducted and Materials Management distributed over 75,000 masks. These are just a few examples of the Scheurer team going above and beyond their job description.

While national attention shifted to the Thumb area in the early months of 2021, Scheurer Health is proud to say that since the beginning of COVID-19, we have experienced no outbreaks of the virus. According to Scheurer Health Infection Prevention Coordinator, Julia Harbuck-Valley, the reason we have not seen any outbreaks, including in any of our three Senior Living communities, Country Bay Village, Country Gardens and Long Term Care, is because of the outstanding staff that complied and were proactive with all the mandated changes.

“It only takes one person, one resident, one employee or one visitor to cause an outbreak. But because everyone has been honest and respectful, we have been able to provide great protection,” Julia explained, “and we’re extremely grateful that our residents, visitors and staff truly understood and respected all of the changes and rules that have been thrown their way.”

Of course, there are plenty more factors that play a role in being able to say that. Here are the top five secret tools in our Scheurer ‘village’ that contributed to not having any outbreaks:

1. Great teamwork.
2. Adaptability and flexibility.
3. Transparent, honest communication both internally and externally.
4. An amazing housekeeping & environmental care team.
5. And most importantly, an outstanding, tight-knit community that supported each other at every step.

Additionally, new technology and digital services were launched amidst the pandemic. TeleHealth appointments were introduced for patients to meet with their providers in the safety and comfort of their own homes, as well as the Remote Patient Monitoring – both utilizing tablets, laptops and smartphones.

Remote Patient Monitoring started at Scheurer Primary Care - Elkton to monitor patients with Congestive Heart Failure. Then, as more patients were being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, it was a great way to continue monitoring them once they were discharged. This not only allowed our team to continue watching their symptoms and oxygen levels, but it also gave patients and their families reassurance and comfort knowing they had someone, literally in the palm of their hands, that they could reach out to while recovering.

It is no secret that some things may never return to what we used to consider ‘normal,’ but what we need to remember is that ‘normal’ is what has gotten us to this point.

Many individuals will read that and think about the ways ‘normal’ failed us, but let it be a positive reminder that a new and improved ‘normal’ is on the horizon and has the opportunity to be even better than what we were all used to beforehand. New technology and a number of vaccines have been developed, proven to be safe, distributed and are readily available because of this effort.

While everyone may dance around the definition of what normalcy is going to look like in the future, there is one thing we know for certain: we have one another. It does truly take a village to get through hard times and luckily, that is exactly what we have here in the Thumb.