By Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC
Not one person would argue the fact that this year, 2020, has been one for the books. So much about how we live our lives is unrecognizable when compared to nine months ago. As we approach the end of 2020, one thing that keeps us grounded, both pre-pandemic, throughout this time, and after it ends, is family — but working in healthcare at community hospitals in different areas of the country for almost 40 years has taught me that family does not just consist of blood relations.
We’re doing the best we can to navigate how to celebrate the holidays with the traditions we hold dear, when we shouldn’t even be in the same room with someone we don’t live with. It has become obvious that we will need to take a flexible approach to togetherness this year. Will that mean cocoa by the fire in the backyard with a small group at a safe distance, or perhaps a family caroling session facilitated by Zoom?
The members of a family operate independently and come together as a united body at times when necessary, and this is just how our team members operate. This fine balance of independent expertise and collaborative efforts is what makes our care so exemplary, and I am so happy to see how our patients, the focus of every team member’s efforts, benefit.
Just as you are figuring out the answers to these complex questions with your family to balance feeling safe with being together, the TRH family continues to use their ingenuity to creatively and safely provide high-quality care to patients. A bitter pill for our team is that our traditional Christmas Gala will be different, not allowing for team embers to socialize as they enjoy a festive meal and environment. We continue to try to preserve togetherness, while still facing the virus and how it separates us.
Our hospital family cares for another family that’s joined together by circumstance: our patients. Our caregivers united even further as they cared for patients during the pandemic and adapted continuously to new care protocols, screening requirements, and Level 3 visitor restrictions — when patients are unable to receive any friends or family. As always, other TRH team members came forward with ingenuity to create ways in which patients could be “together” with their loved ones virtually (via iPads and phone calls) and visually (waving at each other through our windows). With safety being a top priority, the TRH team maintains its daily safety huddles, adapting to pandemic constraints and new protocols.
Our community is a family too, and I see our Chamber of Commerce and sponsors The Oaks and Brevard Insurance are deftly rolling with the limitations this year has imposed as well. As an alternative to the usual Christmas Parade, they are holding a photo contest and virtual picture parade in which chamber member businesses will enter creative pictures with a holiday flavor. Another project that’s bringing the community family together is the chamber’s “Think Local Transylvania” initiative, which includes a holiday shopping event that promotes patronizing our wonderful local businesses in a safe manner. It’s this type of coming together that gives me hope about our community’s resilience in the face of all the unexpected demands 2020 has placed on us.
Despite loving each other, family members also don’t always see eye to eye (who stays away from certain topics of conversation during Thanksgiving dinner?), but our team, and our community work to find creative solutions that benefit the greater good. The ever-changing information on how best to deal with COVID-19 in our hospital and our community requires flexibility, openness to change, and a commitment to staying connected. We’ve done that and continue to do it, as we prepare for 2021.
We are all weary of the burdens that this virus has made us carry, but we must remain vigilant about practicing the 3 Ws to protect ourselves and others — wearing our masks, waiting six feet apart, and washing hands frequently — and try to stay positive about life returning to normal, about hopes for a vaccine, and more.
If we can stay connected with and support those we live with, work with, and encounter in our daily activities, we can meet the challenges of COVID-19, I have no doubt. Thank you for your trust in us during 2020, and our TRH family will do all we can to continue earning it in the year to come.
Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital.