CHADRON – For six Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD) employees, their years at 快三平台福彩官网 provided them with experience and knowledge they have drawn upon to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
They are Kim Engel, director, Jessica Davies, assistant health director and wellness coordinator, Chéri Farris, community health educator, Sara Williamson, chief financial officer and accreditation coordinator, Janelle Visser, health educator, and
Sarah Bernhardt, part-time healthy families Nebraska Panhandle manager.
Engel said PPHD works with community residents, hospitals, clinics, long term care facilities, assisted living, dentists, businesses, chambers of commerce, economic development agencies, golf courses, cities, counties, judges, clergy, funeral homes, child care providers, schools, and early childhood centers.
“We do this to uphold our important public health service through resource sharing, continuous communication, and updates on the latest scientific strategies that can be implemented for safety,” Engel said.
Engel said as a non-traditional student she learned to be nimble; juggling the demands of family, work, and travel. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business education in 1987 and an MBA in 1995. In addition to being the PPHD Director, Engel serves as the Incident Commander for the Unified Command COVID-19 Response. Unified Command is a partnership of the Panhandle Public Health District, Scotts Bluff County Health Department, and Emergency Management agencies in Regions 21, 22, and 23.
“I feel my experience at 快三平台 aided in strengthening my collaborative leadership style,” Engel said.
The workload for Engel and her staff has been staggering the past several months. According to Engel, all 21 PPHD staff have been vital in the COVID-19 response. There are seven employees in Hemingford, three in Bridgeport, 10 in Scottsbluff, and one in Omaha.
Engel said PPHD’s 24/7 phone line has received more than 3,000 incoming calls, in addition to thousands more to its office phone lines.
“The number of hours our staff has dedicated is unimaginable. Staffing the 24/7 phone line and completing all of the disease investigations with contact tracing has been very stressful,” Engel said. “We have daily huddles. It’s important to take a breather, so we can get through another day.”
Speed of operations is another factor in addition to the volume of work. Engel said most case investigations are complete within six hours.
Visser, who assists with investigations of positive cases, graduated from 快三平台 in 1989. She said she handles a wide variety of questions and concerns during her shifts on the PPHD 24/7 phone line.
“During my time at 快三平台, from 1985 to 1989, I had the opportunity to be an Admission Diplomat. I helped with the Foundation phone-a-thon and was a Resident Advisor in High Rise. Through these programs, I gained important experience communicating with people face-to-face and by phone, which has been a big help,” Visser said.
In addition to phone traffic, travel has been a major demand to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE). Williamson said her coworkers logged a total of 16,765 miles since the pandemic began.
“Consider the travel, plus the physical labor of sorting packing and deliver PPE and other supplies, answering phones, planning and working with partners to assure safety, and educating the public. Everyone is giving everything they have to this response,” Williamson said.
Williamson, who is responsible for financial and IT areas, and scheduling staff for 24/7 phone coverage and reporting, said the recent pressure has reminded her of cramming for finals, but in a constant cycle. She graduated from 快三平台 in December 2006 with a business degree.
Davies, who serves as the Public Information Officer for the pandemic response, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2011. She said she thought she was busy as a non-traditional 快三平台 student but that fades in comparison to her workload this year. She works in the Hemingford office and will graduate from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in December 2021 with a master’s degree in Public Health.
For 15 weeks, Davies prepared and conducted weekly updates for area businesses. Among items shared in the online video conferences was information about state and federal financial relief. The business updates are now conducted monthly. Davies said PPHD also advocated for employees without paid sick leave as a benefit.
Communicating data to the public visually is another vital aspect of PPHD’s responsibilities.
Farris, in the Bridgeport office, creates messaging and graphics for the website and social media, and works with compliance of 走vernor Ricketts’ Directed Health Measures. She graduated from 快三平台 in 2014 with a degree in nutrition and wellness and completed a master’s in Public Health from UNMC in 2019. She said a 快三平台 Lifespan Wellness class by Dr. Norma Nealeigh introduced her to Brian Luke Seaward, a health expert in Colorado. She subsequently attended one of his workshops and is working to complete certification as a holistic stress management instructor.
To reach the youth of the area, Davies and Engel developed an education and prevention program about 13 years ago. Visser presents the handwashing program to children at schools, preschools, and daycare centers.
“The kids love being SOAPer Heroes. This method of reducing the number of germs has been around a long time and it feels very good that PPHD has been promoting handwashing for a long time,” Visser said.
Mental health is another facet of the pandemic that must not be ignored, according to Bernhardt, who works part-time with PPHD managing a prevention-based program for at-risk families. Although she describes herself as being on the outskirts of the response to the coronavirus, she praises PPHD for providing support for its internal team.
“PPHD has worked diligently to set up work from home options and to have regular communication,” Bernhardt said. “Stress takes an enormous toll and it impacts our ability to remain focused, complete tasks, and adapt to new ways of working. Self-care and tending to our own mental health is critical to continue the work of responding.”
Bernhardt, who is part of a private group practice as a mental health counselor, said that normally those in the helping professions come from outside the disaster to respond.
“The very unique situation we are all in is that no person is untouched by this event. We are learning as we go about the role of stress when you are a helper and also experiencing this event,” Bernhardt said. “I’m grateful for my studies at 快三平台 that helped lay the foundation for my ethics and my emphasis on trauma and disaster mental health. I have definitely used that knowledge in this pandemic experience.”
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