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Jerry Esker Community Update


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A year ago, we could not have imagined the gauntlet we would run over the next 12 months. In looking back, I take pride in knowing that our employees were standing side-by-side supporting one another through the worst pandemic in our country’s history.

Early on, there was a glimmer of hope that the more rural areas would be spared the ravages of COVID-19. But that glimmer was doused, and we bore our share of the brunt of the virus. I was awed by how our community supported us by nourishing our bodies with food, by selflessly donating its own PPE so we could be protected, and by supporting our efforts with donations so we could be better prepared.

Our Lab coordinated the collection of more than 100,000 specimens and tracked and traced the results. We were fortunate to purchase our own analyzer which has expedited those results. Our Walk-In Clinic staff became experts in respiratory illnesses. Our CCU staff used more ventilators than we would have ever imagined.

The staff on 2 South, 2 East and 4 Medical nursing units and our respiratory therapists donned N-95s, gowns and gloves to treat those battling the virus. In many ways, they became the family of those isolated in negative pressure rooms. They cheered those who went home and held the hands of their patients while they took their last breaths. Our Facilities Services staff supported the team by building 41 more negative pressure rooms so we could protect the rest of the hospital. Our ED was overrun by panicked community members who were concerned for their lives and relied on the expertise and compassion of the staff to meet their emotional and medical needs.

We witnessed staff members filling roles that were foreign to them pre-pandemic. We reveled in their innovation and can-do mindset. Our Infection Prevention leaders were inundated with questions of concern and despite how taxed they were, they took the time to lend an ear. Our Information Systems team addressed countless connectivity issues as staff began working from home. Food & Nutrition Services fed us. Our clinic staff remained the trusted link to the community providing our patients with the care they needed. Our front-line staff continued to greet our guests with kindness and our environmental services staff and care partners helped keep us all safe by ensuring rooms and furniture were safely disinfected. Every one of our employees continues to play a critical role in our battle to keep us safe.

Over the last three months, we have had the privilege of administering more than 12,000 doses of the vaccine. A mighty team of 50 employees and volunteers have given their time to make our vaccination clinic a resounding success. I have been the recipient of countless messages from relieved community members expressing their gratitude for the vaccine and our efforts that have created a fine-oiled machine. I look forward to the day in the near future when we receive enough doses to vaccinate thousands more.

Thank you is never enough, but please know that in my heart, I will always remember 2020/21 as a time in which I have never been more proud and appreciative of my co-workers who rose to meet the needs of our community during this very difficult time.

Stay Healthy,

Jerry Esker
SBL President & CEO

Read previous messages from Jerry Esker

Below are links to up-to-date information, our 24/7 Hotline, and the SBL Virtual MD

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We encourage you to use our Virtual MD app so you can talk with a doctor from the safety of your home. Click here for instructions on how to create an account before you become ill.

We will be updating this site daily and sharing information on social media.