Samantha Fetner Baggett ’11
How has your line of work been affected by COVID-19?
Our clinic team has rolled with the punches of a pandemic. Every day procedures have changed and each patient is different. Our team is triaging and performing exams in the parking lot, answering numerous calls, performing telehealth encounters, watching educational webinars, disinfecting every inch of the building, and taking the time to meet and pray over our providers and patients. I couldn’t appreciate them more for being on the frontlines with me.
We don’t consider ourselves heroes, yet we are honored to use the skills we have been taught to serve in the community. We just show up and try our best to help each individual person that trusts us with their health. We know there are improvements that need to be made and we certainly are on uncharted waters right now.
Can you describe the current situation in your workplace?
Our clinic doors completely closed in early March allowing only staff inside the building. Beginning June 1, patients were allowed inside the clinic but masks are mandatory. All staff consistently wear PPE throughout the day. We are disinfecting the clinic multiple times per day. Before anyone enters our building, their temperature must be checked! All employees’ temperatures are checked multiple times daily! Each patient is escorted to a private room. Well visits are separated from sick visits.
What have the last few weeks been like, in your own words?
This virus is mean, ugly, aggressive, and appears differently depending on the individual. There are no guarantees with treatment. The asymptomatic nature and speed of decline with this virus leaves healthcare teams feeling helpless. This virus has impacted everyone: rural clinics, large hospitals, nursing homes, assisted livings, grocery and retail stores, small businesses, restaurants, families, friends…..everyone. I have felt overwhelmed.
However, throughout the chaos of Covid, I have seen more teamwork, professionalism, safety, compassion, love, service, diligence, patience, prioritizing, focusing, willingness, kindness, and gratitude displayed through actions of not only my clinic staff but the community. The outpouring support of individuals around the world is a beautiful picture of how it takes us all doing our little part!
How has your home or personal life been affected by the pandemic?
I was not able to see any friends or family for weeks. It was sad and depressing few months. I know that they were afraid to be around me due to my work environment and known exposure. We cautiously see each other some now but there is still fear. It’s an uncomfortable feeling of putting someone’s health at risk just by being with them.
I lost a close friend to the coronavirus. It was one of the hardest weeks of my career and personal life. The Lord gave me 3 words that I wrote down and posted on my work computer: creation, connection & gratitude. I’m thankful that Covid-19 can’t change these 3 words in my life. This virus has brought some awful situations and hard days but it can’t change creation, connection, or gratitude. However, even with surrounding chaos, the days have been full of beauty. I’ve sat outside in the evenings and cried under God’s creation of gorgeous skies and warm sunshine.
Connection looks different right now than my natural hugging nature, but it hasn’t stopped. I’ve had to wear a mask and stand feet away from a best friend. I’ve had to make a call or send a text. I’ve had to FaceTime but the connection is still there. Losing a friend and knowing of others who were losing friends and family members was and still is heartbreaking. However, I have more gratitude for making memories and cherishing bonds than I will ever be able to describe.
How did Auburn prepare you for your current role?
The coronavirus pandemic has been challenging as a rural health family nurse practitioner. Our population of patients are fearful while some share a sense of invincibility. I have felt that my largest challenge is to stay up to date daily on the ever changing Covid data and then educate my staff and community. Thankfully, Auburn prepared me to be a researcher and use innovative techniques of education to assist others. Auburn School of Nursing also taught me how to communicate effectively with patients and their families during stressful situations.
For several months, our staff has donned full PPE and completed patient exams in the parking lot outside. We also hosted a drive-thru Covid testing station at our clinic where we swabbed 90 patients in less than 4 hours. A current AUSON student participated in this community service event. I was so proud to see a future Auburn nurse eager to use her existing expertise. AUSON taught me the value of being a team member and how to prioritize during medical crisis.
A priority for us is to be encouragers. We must encourage each other and those that trust us with their health. It’s our job to tell others that they can be a hero right where they are by simply performing proper hand hygiene and wearing a mask. Auburn taught me how to be a family member to every person I come into contact with despite our differences. I am putting the words of our Auburn Creed into action daily in my career.
How do you stay positive during these difficult times?
I believe that positivity is a product of a grateful heart. When overwhelmed, I have to be grateful for being healthy enough to take care of someone else. I have to be grateful for a wonderful medical team that I can collaborate with daily. I have to be grateful for a supportive community. On those days when my gratefulness is not where it should be, I reach out to my closest friends and family for encouragement. I keep my Faith and pray hard!