In the past month, nearly everyone in our community has been called to step up and work together to overcome new struggles presented by COVID-19. None have been called upon more than our healthcare workers, who have shown nothing short of heroism in their efforts to maintain health and hope for those most vulnerable. Healthcare workers have been working day in and day out to keep people safe, and it goes without saying that they deserve our utmost gratitude for their courage and tenacity. That is why Santa Maria would like to highlight four youth currently in Santa Maria’s Comprehensive Case Management and Employment Program (CCMEP) who work in the healthcare field and share their reflections on their work at this time.
Isaac Smith, Margaret Short, Ashley Smith, and Savonne Murray are just a few CCMEP Youth who are at the forefront of healthcare delivery during these unprecedented times. However, continuing to work has not been an easy task.
Isaac, who works as a State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) at St. Theresa – Diversicare, reports that, “working while COVID-19 is going on is scary. It makes you nervous because you have some residents who will die if infected. You have to have a strong mind and a wonderful heart to continue to do your job, because at the end of the day, the residents can’t take care of themselves.”
Ashley, a Medical Assistant at Good Samaritan Hospital agrees that working during the pandemic has been stressful and has presented new obstacles to those working in the field. “Another stress factor is running out of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and coming to work wondering what we’ll do,” Ashley says. Ashley reflects on what it’s like working up the courage every day to go to work, “walking in, reaching into my paper bag after I sanitize my hands and grab my mask that I’ve been wearing for 7 days in a row and getting to work.” However, like Isaac, Ashley’s focus is on her patients. “It is an honor to be on the frontline and seeing to it that we keep people safe. I tell myself; people need you. Your family is safe, but someone else’s isn’t, and if I can’t be with my own family right now, I can be with someone else’s.” Ashley, a mother of three who also has one child who is immunocompromised, feels and recognizes the demand for her bravery both at work and at home. Since the start of the pandemic, Ashley has been providing for her family singlehandedly, as her partner was unable to continue working. “Aside from my patients relying on me, my family is too. I have to keep going to work for them too.”
Savonne, an STNA/Patient Care Assistant (PCA) at Bethesda North Hospital, reiterates that the stress of working comes both from work and home. She has a 5-year-old and a 4-month-old at home while she and her husband work full-time in essential businesses. “I am very proud to be working,” states Savonne, “but also very scared because I have a newborn baby at home.”
Margaret, who works in the café at Maple Knoll Village continues to remain positive, stating that “I’m super happy to be able to say that I’m still working and making money during these hard times.” Margaret, who also participated in the Work Experience Program, expressed her gratitude for the program as well. She says, “I am very grateful for Santa Maria and their Work Experience Program. Without it, I wouldn’t have gotten my new job as a café associate at a retirement home.” Margaret participated in an 8-week work experience at IKRON where she also earned her ServSafe® certification.
As everyone adjusts to a new way of life and as we start to see Ohio’s businesses slowly open back up in the upcoming months, it is crucial to remain grateful for our essential workers and do what we can to help their mission. Santa Maria salutes these healthcare workers and all healthcare workers around the globe. Please donate to Santa Maria to help young people find meaningful employment, like Isaac, Margaret, Ashley and Savonne did.