Making it Matter: Honoring our Healthcare Heroes

Making it Matter

(WTAJ) — In many ways the coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down.

For almost a year now we have been isolated from our loved ones. We have even had to say goodbye to some of them far too soon. Businesses have been struggling, schools have had to go remote and restrictions have been put in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

However, it is people like Dr. Margaret Hallahan from Penn Highlands Healthcare who work tirelessly to keep us all safe.

“At the end of September one of the nursing facilities that I go to started having COVID cases,” Dr. Hallahan said.

In the fall, Dr. Hallahan spent weeks away from her family and stayed at a nursing home in Orbisonia to try and prevent coronavirus cases from spreading rapidly.

“You know obviously going into medicine you know that you are going to have to make tough choices and some sacrifices,” Dr. Hallahan explained. “It was just, I don’t know, something that you feel inside that you need to do and I wanted to do.”

For the healthcare workers on the frontlines, medicine has looked different in many ways.

“One of the things that we are facing is just the sheer number of patients that are ending up needing to be admitted,” Dr. Naveen Yellappa, a hospitalist at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital, said.

Every day Dr. Yellappa sees what this virus can do to a person and is working around the clock to help patients regain their health.

“People do get very, very sick,” Dr. Yellappa told us. “In spite of everything we do to help them, they still end up not doing well and that for me is definitely emotionally draining. You want to try and make sure that they are doing well, that they are getting better, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.”

The pandemic has impacted every aspect of healthcare. For those working in the hospital, everyone has to play their part.

“Every two hours we go around just wiping down door handles, railings, all high touch areas,” Lesley Shope, a housekeeper & supervisor at Conemaugh Miners Medical Center, said. “We are just constantly wiping and making sure everyone is safe for not only the patients, but the employees as well.”

So many people are out there fighting for us to make sure that we’re staying healthy. They risk their lives every day to save others, but they don’t hesitate. In fact, they’re thankful to do the work.

“I think I can say for a lot of my colleagues that this is what you get into this job for, it is to help people that are sick,” Dr. Peter Thomas, a hospitalist at Mount Nittany Medical Center, said. “No one has really hesitated to step up and take care of these patients.”

Abbie Shaffer works as a registered nurse at Conemaugh Nason Medical Center. She was only months into her career when the pandemic hit.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we would be living this,” Shaffer expressed. “I was actually one of the first nurses to have our first person under investigation for COVID.”

In many ways the coronavirus has turned our world upside down, but when our world stops, our healthcare heroes are the ones that keep us going. These are the people that help carry us through and give us hope as we work together to end this pandemic.

If you know someone or an organization who is making it matter in our community please reach out to Maggie. You can send an email to MSmolka@wtajtv.com or reach out to her on Facebook.

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