FAH Hospital Policy Blog

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Rural Hospitals | COVID-19 | FAH Policy Blog Team

“It’s just a roller coaster with COVID.” Frontline view of the pandemic from Rural America

As the COVID19 pandemic continues, so do acts of compassion and heroism from frontline caregivers battling to save lives. But as the Delta surge begins to wane, what is really going on the frontlines? 

In this episode of Making the Rounds, Chip spoke with Jessica Smith, a respiratory therapist from Pulaski, Tennessee, about how she manages to accomplish what her co-worker describes as an inspirational work-life balance during these very stressful times. 

“My aunt was a nurse. She helped people in various ways, and so I knew that I wanted to follow the medical field. I wanted to follow in her footsteps,” Jessica told Chip. She also discussed where she found her passion for patient care, even during the toughest parts of the pandemic, “I do what I do because I love my job. I love to help people and I try to treat everyone just as if it was my family.” 

She then gave a very real assessment of the mood on the frontlines, and how many of the nurses are becoming tired after months of long hours and stressful shifts. “Hero fatigue is very real. There really are no words to describe it. You feel like you, you push and you push and you push, you work with the patients. And then a lot of times things don’t end up always we want them to.”

Jessica drives 70 miles to work every day and lives with her husband, her 7-year-old son who is autistic and also serves as the primary caregiver for her mother who is engaged in a long battle with breast cancer. 

She explained that her home life, which may seem challenging to many, is what keeps her going.

“The last couple of years have been a little more difficult than the prior years, but we have really grown to rely on each other as a family.”

It is her dedication to her patients and family that led to her recently being honored with LifePoint Health’s Mercy Award, which is named after LifePoint’s founder Scott Mercy. It is given to an employee who has profoundly touched the lives of others and embodies the spirit and values upon which the company was founded.

Jessica expressed gratitude to LifePoint for the award and for its support throughout the pandemic. She never expected to win but said she and her team have been smiling since the ceremony. “It’s not, it’s not been about me. It’s been about my team here at Southern Tennessee Regional and Pulaski.”

Be sure to catch the full episode here