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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: WHAT’S THE LATEST ON COVID-19? LEARN MORE

Voices

Hear their Voices

The entire staff at Sweetwater Memorial, as well as the community at large has been affected by COVID-19. Here are their messages:

A Voice from Our Frontlines

September 2021

– Sept. 12, 2021


Voices from the FrontLines

March 2021

Mary Holbert“Oh, yes. I wanted the shot.”

My daughter “is tough, but I’m tougher,” she told the staff at Misson at the Villa Castle Rock after they told Mary her daughter was tough and chose to get the vaccine.

–Mary Holbert of Rock Springs,
celebrating her 96th birthday today, March 26, 2021

Tammy Walker​School-aged children have especially struggled with the changes associated with COVID-19 restrictions. They are such social creatures, and when limitations are placed on their healthy socialization patterns, they suffer. In our clinic, this shows up as depression or anxiety.

This situation is an excellent opportunity to model for your children how life can still be good when unexpected changes arise. Focus on the good and fun things you can do with your kids, and take measures to be an empathetic and happy parent.

– Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Tamara Walker, CPNP-PC,
Pediatric Clinic of Sweetwater Memorial, March 11, 2021

Eva Wasseen​My biggest fear is infecting our patients and causing more distress to those I care for. When the vaccine became available, I signed up in order to protect myself and those who depend on me to be here every day to help them through weeks of cancer treatment. I was nervous to be in the first tier, but for me, the benefits still seem to outweigh the risks. Aside from a sore arm with both injections, it was just like any other vaccination I have received. Having had the vaccine, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I still wear a mask because I have been told that I could possibly carry the virus to others who are not yet vaccinated. I am more than happy to comply. I am hopeful that with the combined effort to vaccinate the rest of the community, and a willingness of people in the community to comply, we will soon be able to resume our daily activities without one.

–Registered Nurse Eva Wasseen,
MHSC’s Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, March 8, 2021

Tasha HarrisDue to the COVID-19 pandemic, studies are showing that important cancer screenings and check-ups have been delayed by many people. I would encourage everyone to please get up to date with your cancer screenings. Early detection can lead to more effective treatments and better outcomes. Catching cancer earlier could save your life.

– Tasha Harris, Dosimetrist and Director at
MHSC’s Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, March 4, 2021

Karlee TremellingI’m thankful I was given the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and proud to say I took advantage of that opportunity. I chose to get vaccinated not for myself but for my coworkers, our patients, my parents, and my grandparents. Getting vaccinated is one small thing we can all do to return to sharing time with my family, seeing smiles, and attending events.

I recently had the privilege of helping at multiple vaccine clinics. The feeling of hope was overwhelming. I can honestly say that was the most grateful I have ever felt to be a nurse.

– Clinical Coordinator Karlee Tremelling, RN,
Specialty Clinics of Sweetwater Memorial, March 1, 2021

February 2021

Tammy Walker​I chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine because I love vaccines. Half of my job is making sure that children are appropriately vaccinated. Our childhood vaccines have entirely transformed how we approach illness in pediatric medicine. Thanks to vaccines, fevers are no longer scary in most kids, and that's a great thing!

– Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Tamara Walker, CPNP-PC,
Pediatric Clinic of Sweetwater Memorial, Feb. 26, 2021

​Our department is small with a limited number of nursing staff, so we depend on one another to stay well and able to come to work. Quarantines lead to nurses having to work in unfamiliar environments, which is not ideal because it causes stress for both the patients and staff. We have tried to avoid this at all costs, whether that means staying home, canceling birthday parties and holiday gatherings, holding online meetings, or simply wearing a mask (which we are all used to by now).

– Registered Nurse Eva Wasseen,
MHSC’s Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, Feb. 23, 2021

Dora B. Lopez“I figured if (the vaccine) is going to help you, I’m going to give it a try,” Dora said.

“The vaccines didn’t hurt at all,” she said. “My arm was a little sore, but that was it. I was told to keep my arm moving, and I did.”

– Dora B. Lopez of Rock Springs,
101-year-old COVID 19 vaccine recipient, Feb. 20, 2021

Every person in our hospital has dedicated the past year to fighting the current pandemic. It’s not just the front-line workers – those treating patients face to face – who have gone above and beyond. Every member of our staff is working harder than ever to ensure that our facility remains safe and clean, and that our patient-facing staff has everything they need to provide exceptional care. From Facilities to Housekeeping, IT to Purchasing, and everyone in between, we are committed to ensuring that our hospital has the proper PPE, testing resources, and equipment to take care of our community.

–Executive Director Tiffany Marshall,
Memorial Hospital Foundation, Feb. 17, 2021

Eva Wasseen​Our long-term goal is to extend and improve the quality of life for our patients, and this virus has certainly made that more challenging in many ways. Explaining to my family and friends the importance of mask wearing and respecting social distance requirements has been hard and sometimes frustrating. But, we HAVE seen this work in controlled environments like the hospital where it is a requirement. We continue to work together and take care of patients (even those with COVID-19) yet manage to avoid getting and passing it on. It’s when we go home and let our guard down that we are exposed, and risk exposing those we work with and those we take care of. Even so, by following the rules at work, we avoid unintentional exposure and diminish that risk.

– Registered Nurse Eva Wasseen,
MHSC’s Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, Feb. 14, 2021

Tammy WalkerThe first dose of the vaccine left me with a slight headache – the kind that makes you think you need to drink some water. I went right back to work and finished out the day fine. The next day, my muscle at the injection site was sore. I felt great after that.

The second dose of the vaccine came three weeks later. I experienced some soreness at the injection site. The next day, I had a slight headache. But I had a headache, fatigue and body aches throughout the night. On day three, I had no problems.

These symptoms and others are all normal. So, it’s a small price to pay for prevention.

– Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Tamara Walker, CPNP-PC,
Pediatric Clinic of Sweetwater Memorial, Feb. 11, 2021

Dr. Chandra Yeshlur​We have worked hard within our practice to adapt to the changes that have come with COVID-19. We do telemedicine visits with all sick patients to protect our patients and staff members. Now, more than ever, we need to be continuing routine vaccination of our children to keep them up to date, immune, and protect those who may not be able to get vaccines. Please reach out to your healthcare providers to make sure you are up to date on vaccines and get to know the changes they have implemented to help protect our community.

– Pediatrician Dr. Chandra Yeshlur,
Sweetwater Pediatrics, Jan. 8, 2021

Ann Clevenger​I have seen hospital staff working tirelessly to provide the best care possible to those individuals impacted by COVID-19. The hospital staff become the patient’s family during hospitalization, hopefully recovery, but sometimes in death. COVID-19 is an unpredictable infection, causing little to no symptomology to death. If I can prevent the spread of infection by receiving the vaccine and saving only one life, it is worth it.

–Chief Nursing Officer Ann Clevenger,
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Feb. 5, 2021

Deborah DeFauwI have great love for my life, my family, my job and co-workers, and my community.

I got vaccinated to PROTECT the things that I love.

– Rehabilitation Services Director Deborah DeFauw,
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Feb. 1, 2021

January 2021

Dr. Chandra Yeshlur​Daily we see the impact that COVID- 19 has had on our patients and their families. Patients are experiencing isolation in homes, prolonged symptoms, and stigma when testing positive. Family dynamics have changed with job loss, daycare closures, homeschooling, and caregivers becoming sick. Fears of losing your home, being unable to pay bills, and the inability to pay for food have increased along with loss of family members. Our patient’s families are trying their best to adapt and we need to do our best to offer support and understanding throughout our community.

– Pediatrician Dr. Chandra Yeshlur,
Sweetwater Pediatrics, Jan. 28, 2021

The emergence of COVID-19 brought confusion, fear, and stress to many over this last year. As a nurse working with a special population of patients, who are often immune-compromised from undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments, my focus has been on trying to keep our patients safe and on avoiding transmission of the virus to them. Cancer treatments are time sensitive. Delays and missed treatments due to illness make treatment less effective. Treatment of our patients must continue, without or without COVID-19.

– Registered Nurse Eva Wasseen,
MHSC’s Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, Jan. 24, 2021

Patty O'LexeyPut simply … I BELIEVE.

I BELIEVE …

… in the science and safety of the COVID-19 Vaccine.

… that the vaccine is an important tool to help stop the pandemic

... in doing my part to become part of the solution.

I am stunned at how terrified people are of the vaccine when this terrible virus has caused so much pain and destruction to our civilization. I think this is a personal decision and one that each individual must make on their own. Research the true science behind the safety of the COVID-19 Vaccine, then make the decision to be vaccinated or not. Whether you choose to vaccinate or not, we must continue to take precaution to stop this pandemic. One more loss is too many.

– Education Department Supervisor Patti O’Lexey, RN,
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Jan. 20, 2021

Ann ClevengerWhy should you get a COVID-19 vaccine? Why not?

Vaccines are intended to protect individual and community health and wellness through prevention of preventable disease processes. I received the vaccine not only for myself but for the health and well-being of those I interact with every day, including my family, community, and patients at the hospital.

To minimize and reduce the spread of infection, vaccination is a preventive method to reducing the community, state, and the global pandemic.

– Chief Nursing Officer Ann Clevenger,
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Jan. 17, 2021

Dr. Chandra YeshlurWe have seen a profound change within our patient population due to COVID-19; we are seeing babies growing up with the norm of face coverings, children having to adapt to virtual learning, and teenagers dealing with continual changes to activities. We are encouraging open conversations with patients about stress, fear, and loss that have come with COVID-19. Maintaining and developing positive coping skills is more important than ever and we will continue to support and educate our patients through this hard time.

– Pediatrician Dr. Chandra Yeshlur,
Sweetwater Pediatrics, Jan. 15, 2021

Dr. Banu Symington​The nurses, therapists and pharmacists who work at the Cancer Center have had specialized, time-consuming training. We therefore don't have backup in the community for staff who are sick or in quarantine. We wouldn’t want a lack of staff, due to sickness or quarantine, to force us to temporarily shut down the Cancer Center.

These factors led us, as well as the hospital and its clinics, to adopt masking of staff and patients early in the pandemic. We ask all members of our community to wear masks when out and about to protect the most vulnerable in our community, those who may not ask for their own benefit. Let's work together to protect everyone.

–Oncologist/Hematologist Dr. Banu Symington,
MHSC's Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, Jan. 13, 2021

Crystal HamblinWhile the respiratory therapists continue to carry out their duties in a professional manner – ensuring each and every patient is cared for like they are family and celebrating every time a COVID patient is discharged – they are suffering from “compassion fatigue.” It is real. Part of it comes from the lack of adherence to preventive measures out in the community. They can’t understand why the public won’t stay home, stop traveling, and stop exposing themselves and others.

– Cardiopulmonary Services Director Crystal Hamblin,
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Jan. 11, 2021

Dr. Banu SymingtonCOVID has hit our nation hard, but has had a unique impact on cancer patients. Many have delayed coming in so they have more advanced disease at diagnosis, while those who are being treated have weakened immune systems due to the ravages of cancer or cancer therapy. With new cancer therapies, you cannot always recognize cancer patients in the community. But these are the people in our community who are most vulnerable to serious illness and death due to COVID.

– Oncologist/Hematologist Dr. Banu Symington,
MHSC's Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, Jan. 9, 2021

Crystal Hamblin​My greatest concern is that the respiratory therapists will contract the virus and be unable to work. Respiratory therapists are specifically trained to manage ventilators and care for patients in respiratory distress and we need that expertise more now than ever. We have increased our arsenal of ventilators, BiPAPs, and High-Flow Oxygen equipment, but we need to keep the staff healthy so they can manage those machines and care for the patients suffering from COVID, COPD, influenza, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

– Cardiopulmonary Services Director Crystal Hamblin,
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Jan. 7, 2021

The respiratory therapists have been working feverishly to stay ahead of the COVID-19 crisis. We are a small department that provides respiratory services 24/7. We have contracted three additional employees to help keep up with the demands and are actively looking for more. We have halted some of our outpatient testing to free up staff for inpatient care, which has reduced stress by having more hands. Back in March, we started training nurses to perform EKGs and administering breathing treatments so the respiratory therapists could focus on managing ventilators, BiPAPs and other assisted-breathing machines for patients. The problem is, the nurses are just as busy as the therapists.

– Cardiopulmonary Services Director Crystal Hamblin,
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Jan. 5, 2001

​Without a cure for COVID-19, we can only reduce spread of the disease. Wearing a mask does reduce the spread of disease, including COVID-19. A mask mandate is currently in effect in Sweetwater County. This has helped our community. I have seen a response in the community with increased community members wearing masks.

– Surgeon Dr. Brianne Crofts, General Surgery
Clinic of Sweetwater Memorial, Jan. 3, 2021

John Bright(3 of 3) If we as Americans work together, we will defeat this enemy. Make no mistake, this is war. There have been over 300,000 casualties and it’s still rising. We must, as Americans, show why we are the best and defeat this invisible enemy once and for all. When the vaccine gets to the hospital, I will be among the first to get it. I am going to record myself getting it, record days later, and report any side effects. When I get my second, I will repeat the process. For our fellow Americans, for our country, for the world, please help us defeat this. Hooah!

– Registered Respiratory Therapist John Bright,
traveling healthcare worker and 3-time Iraq war Army veteran, Jan. 1, 2001

December 2020

(2 of 3) Since this pandemic began ravaging the nation, I have been offered very high-paying contracts to help out the biggest outbreaks at a given time. Even as I write this I have been offered over three times what I make at this moment to fly somewhere else and help. I didn't do that because I've lived here before. I started out as a respiratory therapist here. I live in another state now with my family and came here to help you all out. My kids, my wife, my pets all miss me, but they know we have to help or there won't be anybody else. I am here for you Rock Springs. All I ask, beg, and plead with all the honor of a combat veteran is to please wash your hands, wear a mask in public, and take the vaccine.

– Registered Respiratory Therapist John Bright,
traveling healthcare worker and 3-time Iraq war Army veteran, Dec. 30, 2020

(1 of 3) I've been a respiratory therapist for many years, an advanced adult/pediatric life support instructor, three-time Iraq war Army veteran starting in the invasion of 2003, and family man. I have been fighting COVID-19 since the outbreak in New York, where I worked in the borough of Brooklyn. During my one month at that place, I saw more death and suffering with my own eyes than I did during any of my three deployments to Iraq. The fridge trucks with the dead were real. The bodies stacking up were real.

– Registered Respiratory Therapist John Bright,
traveling healthcare worker at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Dec. 28, 2020

Mary FischerLaboratories continue to face numerous barriers in the fight against COVID-19. Shortages of skilled personnel, allocation restrictions for necessary reagents, long testing lines, and delays in test results are all obstacles laboratories continue to face during this world-wide pandemic. In our laboratory, we have validated and implemented numerous testing platforms using the latest technology to be able to provide an adequate amount of testing to our community. Long lines and wait times can be avoided by simply wearing masks, washing hands regularly, and participating in social distancing.

– Laboratory Director Mary Fischer,
Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Dec. 24, 2020

Dr. Connie Fauntleroy​We have patients getting very sick, either needing hospitalization or remaining home on oxygen for long periods of time. These can be lonely times for people, as friends cannot visit and some people fear telling others they have COVID due to stigma. Families have lost loved ones right before and during the holidays. We want people to know that they are not alone. Please reach out to neighbors, friends, your healthcare provider, local church or community leaders if you need support.

– Pediatrician Dr. Connie Fauntleroy,
Castle Rock Medical Center, Dec. 22, 2020

Megan JacobsenIn the labor and delivery unit, we are starting to see more moms testing positive close to their due date. We continue to recommend rooming in with your baby. Our staff will come into your room in full PPE, which includes masks, hoods, eye covers, and gowns. We have had staff exposed and have to quarantine from patients and/or their partners, so we now ask all partners to wear a mask when staff are in the room to protect our staff members. We want to make sure we have adequate staffing to safely care for the moms and babies in this community.

– Women’s Health Director Megan Jacobsen,
Specialty Clinics of Sweetwater Memorial, Dec. 20, 2020.

​We do not have a cure for COVID-19. We do have a few treatment options that assist the immune system in combating COVID-19. The only care we have is supportive care. We can help support COVID patients with supplemental oxygen, high flow oxygen, positive pressure devices like BiPAP, and ventilator support. The healthcare workers provide additional pulmonary therapy. We monitor the COVID patient for any decline and intervene. After that, all we have is the patient’s immune system and time. Hopefully, with time, the COVID patient will recover and go home.

– Surgeon Dr. Brianne Crofts, General Surgery Clinic
of Sweetwater Memorial, Dec. 18, 2020

Dr. Connie Fauntleroy​We regularly hear from people who have ‘been trying to be so careful’ and then get infected anyway. We are hearing of the financial impact this has on people as it leaves them out of work for 10 days, and up to a month for some families depending on quarantine dates and childcare needs.

Recognizing the importance of masking was a great first step in the right direction. Our community now needs to shift from disagreements about COVID to caring for the people impacted by COVID, either emotionally, physically or financially. This will be a difficult winter for many. I am hopeful that our community leaders can lead our community to start working together to care for each other during this incredibly difficult time.

– Pediatrician Dr. Connie Fauntleroy,
Castle Rock Medical Center, Dec. 16, 2020

Dr. Brianne Crofts​Taking care of patients with COVID-19 takes much more time for all members of the healthcare team. Team members have to wear the appropriate PPE to protect themselves from contracting the virus. One COVID patient could require two hours at a time depending on the current condition of that COVID patient. Remember, the non-COVID patients also need care.

The hospital is staffed for the average census that we see in a normal year. We would all agree 2020 has not been normal. The hospital now needs more staff – ICU nurses and respiratory therapists – to take care for the COVID patients, plus the average number of sick patients. The hospital is aggressively trying to recruit more ICU nurses and respiratory therapists. However, everyone in the nation needs ICU nurses and respiratory therapists. At the end of the day, we do not need more ventilators or hospital beds; we will need more ICU nurses and respiratory therapists.

– Surgeon Dr. Brianne Crofts, General Surgery Clinic
of Sweetwater Memorial, Dec. 14, 2020

Dr. Connie FauntleroyWe have made a few observations over the last few weeks. We are seeing patients affected by COVID across all industries, schools, healthcare facilities and restaurants and other service industries. I am thankful for the masking, as there has been a visible increase over the past week. I am hopeful this will allow for people to work and do business without getting infected. To those of you who have been supportive of masking in the community, we do sincerely thank you.

– Pediatrician Dr. Connie Fauntleroy,
Castle Rock Medical Center, Dec. 12, 2020

Dr. Brianne CroftsThe healthcare workers are grateful for those who wear their mask in public. I applaud the school district and industry for enforcing the mandate. I want our community to stay open but not at the risk of overwhelming the hospital with sick patients. Wearing a mask in public, staying home when sick and washing your hands will help reduce the number of COVID patients requiring admission. The hospital can only support so many COVID patients and sick patients without COVID. We need everyone’s help and support to make it through this. I ask that all leaders in our community continue to work together for the health and safety of everyone.

– Surgeon Dr. Brianne Crofts, General Surgery Clinic
of Sweetwater Memorial, Dec. 10, 2020