Overlooked hospital workers and efforts to keep families connected

Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 3:07 PM EDT
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Hospital workers put their lives on the line every day to help keep the community safe during this pandemic. Our Kelly O'Brien spoke to some hospital workers who are often overlooked and others keeping families connected.

Josh Wilson and Erika Stacey are dressed head to toe in personal protective equipment for their shifts at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital as they sterilize the rooms patients come in and out of.

"We are housekeepers but we are more than just doing custodial work," Wilson explained. "We work in infection control, so keeping the spread of germs down to a minimum."

Their job is more important now than ever, sanitizing every surface someone may touch inside the ER.

"We don't want to have a patient that is not going through something like COVID and possibly pick it up because we didn't do our jobs thoroughly," Wilson said.

Like many jobs in a hospital, the work does not slow down during a pandemic.

Mike Theeman is a physical therapist who works with patients staying in the Elizabethtown Community Hospital. He says his work continues but now he wears a mask and answers questions about his health before coming to work.

"Try to keep things as normal and relaxed as we can while also delivering treatment safely," Theeman said.

The biggest change for PT patients is no visitors. Theeman says support systems play a vital role in helping patients get better.

The hospital is using telehealth technology to keep loved ones connected so they don't miss any major milestones.

Tom Delaronde suffered a stroke in December. Last week, he was able to share his first steps with his loved ones thanks to telehealth.

"Suddenly they were not able to visit with him every day. We wanted to look for another way that he could connect with them," Theeman said.

Back at CVPH, they say it's all about doing what's best for the community-- pandemic or not.

"It's something that we do every day. Even before this started we were doing the same thing and doing the best that we can for our patients," Erika Stacey said.

The Clinton County Health Department says all hospital workers, whether they have direct contact with patients or not, should wash their clothes as soon as they get home, take a shower and wash their hands regularly.

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