Healthcare workers share their stories during COVID-19

Submitted Photo 2016 VGHS grad Laura Hauersperger, left, enjoying her pinning ceremony with classmate Caitlin Walerowicz.

Submitted Photo Villa Grove’s Lauri Vollmer and her son Logan are both frontline healthcare professionals.

By Tony Hooker
COVID-19 is impacting all of us.  But no one has been impacted more than those on the frontline, healthcare professionals.  With that in mind, I thought I would profile some local folks who are at the fore.  

Lauri Vollmer has worked in Healthcare for the past 20 years, and here are some of her insights.

How long have you worked in healthcare?

Ten years at Christie Clinic and ten years at Carle Neuroscience Institute brain and spine.

How has your role changed since the COVID-19 outbreak?

The first two weeks we limited the patients in the facility to only emergency patients, Post-op patients and critical ones that may need surgery.  Now in our third week we are now wearing masks all the time N95 with any patient contact. Regular masks in the clinic. We are required to be 6ft away from even our co-workers.

How is the morale as you work “on the front lines” of the healthcare world?

Morale has been good in the fact we want to take care of our patients even at a distance. Second week, we started using telemedicine.  So we were not endangering ourselves or our patients. When patients do come into the office the CMA, RN and provider all wear N-95 masks and gloves. Patients are screened over the phone prior to the appointment and before they come in the building. 

What’s one thing that everyone should know about healthcare professionals during this pandemic?

This is a real threat! In the beginning I felt like it was being blown out of proportion. As the numbers of infected patients rose I knew I was completely wrong. 

Did you even imagine something like this happening when you chose health care?  Would you have chosen differently?

I would not change my profession! I enjoy working in healthcare and always will.

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when it’s over and things begin to normalize?

First thing I will do is go see my son Logan and his girlfriend Meagan. They are both RN’s on the front lines at OSF.

Is there anything that you would like to add?

One thing I would like to add. Healthcare workers enjoy what they do but no one ever thought COVID-19 would happen. We need the equipment to do our jobs.

After making a career switch, Julie Burnett is set to graduate as an LPN in December.   

How long have you worked in healthcare?

I have worked in health care for about one year in the Emergency Department.  

How has your role changed since the COVID-19 outbreak?

Since the COVID-19 outbreak we have definitely mastered how to wear PPE correctly. We wore masks with certain patients before, but I feel like we never worried daily about the safety of our own lives. We now have strict policies at work for screening and visitors which has been an adjustment for workers and patients. 

How is the morale as you work “on the front lines” of the healthcare world?

The morale is scary. I am another one that never realized this was as bad as it has turned into. I worry for my co-workers, our patients, my family and myself. Being on the front line, I never worried before about undressing before I entered my home, so I don’t get my family sick. I am honestly scared. 

Did you even imagine something like this happening when you chose health care?  

I never imagined this when I decided to work in healthcare. Everyone is really doing their best at my work to provide the correct safety, but it is a day to day learning experience for everyone involved. I think the unknown of all of this is the scariest thing and when it will end. 

Would you have chosen differently?

I would not have chosen differently but my family after all of this might have for me. I would be lying if I did not say I am scared to death that I will bring this home to my family and see one of them on a respirator someday. I would not change what I do, and I just pray things can go back to normal soon. 

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when it’s over and things begin to normalize?

I would love to have my weekly lunch with my Mom again or just go on our shopping trips. I have stayed away from everyone I know except the people in my house since this all started. 

Is there anything that you would like to add?

Please stay home and slow this virus down. This is new to all of us and we all want to come out of this healthy as well as everyone we know. Be patient if you have to utilize healthcare at this time, we are all doing the best we can.

As luck would have it, Laura Hauersperger was just 90 days into her career as an RN when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

How long have you worked in healthcare?

About a month and a half in my current role as a registered nurse. 

How has your role changed since the COVID-19 outbreak?

I started working right when all of this started so I would say the only things that have really changed are the guidelines in how I am able to care for patients and being extra vigilant about hand washing and personal protective equipment. 

How is the morale as you work “out on the front lines” of the healthcare world?

The staff that I work with have all banded together and created a very positive work environment. We all do what we can to help each other out and make sure that our patients are getting the best care that they can! My management does everything they can to keep us informed and they have been really helpful through this process, as well. 

Did you even imagine something like this happening when you chose healthcare? Would you have chosen differently?

Not at all. I am a new grad so it’s hard trying to learn how everything works on top of learning how to holistically care for patients with a disease I had never heard about in school. However, I have always been interested in infectious disease and how the disease process works so I enjoy being able to learn how this one works and how I can educate others on the prevention side of this pandemic. Every moment is worth it, though, and I wouldn’t change my career for the world!

What’s the one thing that everyone should know about healthcare professionals during this pandemic?

This one is tough. The first thing that comes to mind is we are human, too. We have families to come home to that some can’t because of fear of giving it to a family member. We have fears but we also have hope. A hope that this will end and that everyone’s lives can go back to normal. The second is that we are doing everything in our power to give the best care we can in the safest way possible for everyone. 

What’s the first thing you are going to do when it’s over and things begin to normalize?

Give all of my family the biggest and longest hugs I can. 

Is there anything you would like to add?

I have appreciated the outpouring of community support for healthcare workers, first responders, military personnel, grocery clerks, and other vital essential workers- thank you!! Just keep washing your hands, social distancing, and self-isolate if you need to. At the same time, take care of your mental health and go for a walk and do things you enjoy!

Leave a Comment