A year into the pandemic, Lynchburg frontline health workers reflect on the fight


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — “We’re here for you,” said Heather Mayberry, a Clinical Nurse Specialist with Centra. “We hope we don’t see you, but we’re here for you if you need us.”

Sunday, March 7 will mark one year since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was discovered here in Virginia.

A panel of frontline health workers with Centra reflected on the year of COVID-19. They work in a number of local health care facilities, including Lynchburg General Hospital.

Some moments helped bring the team hope.

“That patient that you didn’t think was going to make it, and to be able to celebrate them leaving and returning to their family is just the most amazing moment,” said Lisa Frank, the Director of Respiratory Therapy.

“Even on really tough days, the staff will still laugh,” said Mayberry. “You’ll still see smiles. They do it for themselves, to pick each other up, but they also do it for the patients. The patients can’t really see our faces when we’re in these rooms, but we’ve learned to smile with our eyes really good so that they know that we’re cheering them on.”

Mayberry says the losses are hard, especially when the patient dies too quickly for their families to say goodbye.

“Our staff really strive to not let any patient die alone, that someone is there with them, holding their hand, ensuring that we are there with them to support them through those last minutes and to be able to reassure the family that we were there with them and that they did not die alone.”

For these caregivers, the year has refocused their priorities.

“Like our community, we have dealt with the social isolation. We’ve dealt with homeschooling our children,” said Tabatha Sprouse, Managing Director of Acute Care Nursing. “The one thing I’ve really learned is just the value of presence and just the value of those little things that we tend to take for granted.”

As the pandemic goes on, they have advise for the community. And their message going forward:

“Get vaccinated when you can,” said Dr. Betsy Cook, Executive Medical Director of Hospitalist Associates of Virginia.

The others in the panel nodded in agreement with Cook.

“Also, continue to wear a mask and socially distance,” said Cook. “This will always be a really key tool in keeping COVID from kind of commanding control of life again in the future.”

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