There is no denying that this moment in our history has changed our globe, country and community. We now live in a world removed from others. A world where staying home, or distancing yourself at least 6 feet from another person and wearing a face mask in public are the new normal. The novel corona virus has changed everything about the way we work, teach, worship and interact.
We are all experiencing the pandemic in different ways. Some are coping with the pain of losing a loved one, unable to celebrate the life lost in a large gathering. Others have lost work, grappling with how to pay this month’s bills. Students miss their classrooms, and graduates of all ages have lost the traditional moment of walking across the stage to accept their diplomas. Couples postpone weddings or celebrate them with ten people or less. Birthdays and anniversaries look different as we celebrate while socially distancing at home.
But even in the midst of the most difficult times, the creativity, kindness and ingenuity of the human spirit prevails.
Saline County has provided much-needed support over the last eight weeks. Dr. Ahmad Yousaf, Hospitalist and Medical Intensive Care Unit Director at Saline Memorial Hospital is moved by the generosity of the community. “Multiple members of the community have sewn masks,” explains Dr. Yousaf.
Local business have donated food to those on the front line and have even set up a Sunday night prayer vigil. The police and fire department, EMS and members of the community clap as the shift changes to the night team. This new tradition is a way of thanking the healthcare heroes at Saline Memorial Hospital. “On Sundays, during the evening shift change, we watch the parking lot fill up,” explains Dr. Yousaf. “It is incredible to watch the entire community come together. Everyone has their own stresses right now. But people come out to support all frontline responders. Our entire team from respiratory therapists, food and environmental services witnessed people showing their gratitude for everyone at this time.”
Dr. Yousaf had future plans to move his family back to his home state of New Jersey. In the aftermath of the initial outbreak, the outpouring of love from the Saline County community has been life-altering. “It’s experiences like this one that have changed my plans,” explains Dr. Yousaf. “To feel like a part of a larger community that supports in such a personal manner is what drives myself and the entire healthcare team to keep showing up to work.”
Dr. Micheal Pafford, a Hospitalist on the front line at Saline Memorial Hospital, has seen the medical landscape shift overnight. But thanks to planning and forward thinking of the team at Saline Memorial, they have the personal protective equipment they need to take care of patients. Dr. Pafford explains, “We have not run out of personal protective equipment, but we have had to manage equipment differently. We have had situations where we have had to preserve equipment.”
Thanks to the ingenuity of a fellow physician, Dr. Pafford’s partner used his 3-D printer to make the brim of protective eye shields. Now each team member has their own assigned eye shield that can be disinfected and reused.
The community support is palpable and personal as well for Dr. Pafford. “I have lived in Saline county since 2008, and worked at Saline Health System nine of those twelve years,” explains Dr. Pafford. “I missed feeling like I was part of this community. I came back to Saline Memorial because I missed the community and the support you feel when you serve Saline County.”
In 2016, Dr. Pafford had a stroke and he and his wife had only moments to react.
“It is a blessing to have confidence in your local healthcare facility if you are experiencing any illness,” explains Dr. Pafford. “I chose to come to Saline Health System when I knew my brain was in danger. I could have asked my wife to drive to any big hospital in Little Rock, but I wanted to be here because I had full confidence in Saline!”
Ways to Give
Matt Brumley, Director of Saline Health Foundation, connects community resources to Saline Memorial. He and Brian Mann, Director of Growth and Outreach at Saline Memorial, have coordinated efforts to support frontline workers at Saline Memorial. “Our faith-based community has provided grab bags, with healthy snacks and a letter of encouragement to help provide support to our heroes,” explains Matt. “We have had some non-profits partner with us. The Arkansas Chinese American Association has donated personal protective equipment.”
You can support healthcare workers on the front line of COVIDCOVID-19 by donating to the Saline Health Foundation. “If you have an ability to give, your gift has great value to people in our community,” explains Matt.
You can donate by calling 501-776-6746, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting salinehealthfoundation.org
Preventing the Spread | Saving Lives
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your primary care physician. If you are experiencing an emergency then call 911 or visit your local emergency department. “Saline Memorial has created infrastructure to mitigate the risk of exposure to our patients,” explains Dr. Yousaf.
It is important to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Follow the instructions on how to stay safe from reliable sources. The CDC recommends the following guidelines for staying healthy during this time:
Undoubtedly this moment in time will have lasting effects, but we can all do something to help. Support your local businesses, check on your family, friends and neighbors or donate what you can to support relief efforts.