Valley Health reflects on one year since treating its first COVID-19 patient

One staff member says the organization is forever changed by the pandemic.
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 7:41 PM EDT
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WINCHESTER, Va. (WHSV) -Valley health began treating its first COVID-19 patient on March 19, 2020.

Exactly one year later, staff members were reflecting on the hardships and lessons learned over the last year.

Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Anne Whiteside, at Winchester Medical Center said the organization is different now from the hard work staff have put in.

“We’re a very different organization today because of the work that was laid down and started a year ago,” Whiteside said.

Whiteside said she remembers when the pandemic first started.

“As an entire system, every single contributor was important at that point,” Whiteside said.

Over the last 365 days, she said changes have been happening constantly from COVID-19 treatment to testing to vaccines. The key words at the hospital were “at this time.”

But from the start of the pandemic, Whiteside said teamwork has been key.

“The materials management, or the procurement side of our company, that actually made sure that we had PPE for our staff. The pharmacies throughout this entire journey, nurses, physicians, respiratory, infection control, our employee health department; every single corner of our organization contributed in ways I never even imagined a year ago,” Whiteside said.

Whiteside said fear was a looming factor over this past year for both the community and staff and said there were a lot of unknowns.

“Most of us felt like ‘well we haven’t done this before.’ If you looked to the literature, or you looked to evidence-based practice, the roadmap wasn’t there. Never in my career or others have we had that,” Whiteside said.

The pandemic has been very isolating for health care workers, but Whiteside said many caregivers have still given it their all to take care of patients.

“Even through all of this, people really gave every ounce of [themselves] to take care of patients,” Whiteside said.

She said a big lesson they have learned is that you can’t pour your soul into taking care of others until you take care of yourself, and this is a practice she hopes will continue.

Whiteside added that the outpouring of support from the community and the community partnership has meant a lot.

She says the pandemic has forever changed her team, and the test will be applying the lessons learned in the future.

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