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Healthcare Heroes

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Community supports hospital during pandemic

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    Two people pose with bags of food being delivered to Putnam General Hospital for the employees. CONTRIBUTED
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Pizza was donated to the hospital for the medical workers to enjoy while working under the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. CONTRIBUTED
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Several heroes at Putnam General Hospital grab lunch that was donated to the hospital from the community in support of their efforts against COVID-19. CONTRIBUTED

The COVID-19 pandemic has put many hospitals in a bind due to a lack of resources, both human and material, to help treat those seriously affected by the virus.

Putnam General Hospital experienced some of these issues, but thanks to the hard workers and community members, they have persevered throughout the past year.

Sheree McCommon, Clinical Coordinator at Putnam General, says the pandemic was “something like we’ve never seen” but she’s proud of the way the pandemic has been handled in our local hospital.

“The nurses didn’t really have much of a shortage because they worked extra,” she said. “A lot of it was challenging but it was rewarding as well. It makes you feel good to see people get well and go home and most of ours did.”

“I think we did good working with emergency preparedness. We planned ahead to get supplies just in case we needed it,” she said. “I think the emergency department did awesome.”

She said the hospital only had around six COVID patients at one time and the biggest issue they faced was being unable to transfer them to bigger facilities.

“The larger facilities couldn’t take them no matter how sick they were. They didn’t have the room. They were just overwhelmed,” said McCommon.

She said the hospital’s experience has been one of learning. Nurses were taught how to properly dress and undress out of their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hospital leadership participated in emergency preparedness meetings with Navicent daily when the pandemic began.

“We’ve learned a lot from it. You know, surgery people have always wore masks and routinely when you admit a person into the hospital, you don’t really wear a mask,” McCommon explained. “Some of the stuff we learned and started doing like the extra environmental cleaning and screening everybody that came in. I don’t know. People may start doing that during the regular virus season. It really works. The masks, I know people didn’t want to wear them, but they do work and we’re still wearing them.”

She said fewer COVID patients are coming in and the ones that are coming in have less severe symptoms.

“It was very difficult there for a couple months right after Christmas. We had so many cases,” she said. “The support from the community has made a major impact on the morale of the hospital staff.

A group of local pastors come to the hospital on Tuesdays and Thursdays to support the employees through anything they might be going through and many local businesses have donated food to the hospital during this particularly challenging time.

“The community’s been great. They send us food. We get all kinds of stuff just in support, I guess just to let us know that they’re thinking about us and want to help in any way they can,” she explained.

“The nurses, they did great. They jumped in and did overtime and just really worked extra and made it happen,” McCommon said. “I think morale is getting better. I think Georgia just hit vaccinating 3 million people. The more people that get vaccinated, the better we’re going to be and I think everybody realizes that. Plus, we’re not seeing as many people in the emergency room so we can tell that it is going down.”