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COVID-19 pandemic means changing roles at Augusta Health

A sign for the healthcare heroes outside of Augusta Health. | Credit: WHSV
A sign for the healthcare heroes outside of Augusta Health. | Credit: WHSV(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 16, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of chages to our lives and how we do our job, and the employees at Augusta Health are no different.

Liz McWhirt is a nurse, and normally the manager of the Augusta Health Urgent Care Services.

"We see acute illnesses and injuries as well as flu, so we were just coming off the end of flu season," McWhirt said.

Lara Young works as a physical therapist in the Augusta Health Outpatient Center.

"Treating patients that had anywhere from neurologic to orthopedic conditions," Young said. "We cared for those that had had total knee replacements, other surgeries that would require physical therapy interventions."

However, their roles have shifted with the spread of COVID-19. McWhirt is now also overseeing the

. That's brought some changes to her normal roles, to say the least.

Now, she said her day starts with a team huddle at the center, before they take their temperatures and work with patients. But working with patients who possibly have COVID-19 meant new changes to procedures.

"We needed to train all of the staff on the proper use of the PPE equipment," McWhirt said.

Young's role also changed. As the patient volume declined, Young and others began working in other roles. Young is now a safety resource officer. Among other responsibilities, Young helps providers through the steps of using their personal protective equipment.

"We work to make sure that the steps are also maintained for safety, for cleanliness, of their personal protective equipment for them when it needs to be used again," Young said.

Both McWhirt and Young said their new roles have come with challenges and adjustments.

"Each day we get new guidelines and new updates, and we just make sure we share the information with the staff and we put that practice into place," McWhirt said.

Young added they're very interested in the latest information coming from the CDC and federal government, and they incorporate all that information.

For now, this will be the new normal, but McWhirt said they're focused on helping patients, even though it's in a new way.

"Our job here is to keep the patients safe, the staff safe, provide good, quality care," McWhirt said.

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