BATESVILLE – Kim Wuestefeld, a 2005 Batesville High School graduate, has noticed firsthand how COVID-19 has affected people.

“We have seen that a lot of the patients coming in are more sick than usual,” reports the Columbus Regional Hospital registered nurse, who works in the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit taking care of patients with various heart conditions as well as other comorbidities (the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions). “Patients are hesitant to come into the hospital for fear of getting COVID-19, so they are waiting until the last minute to be seen. Our floor specifically does heart-related procedures like pacemaker placements, heart catheterizations and other vascular surgeries.

“The elective cases were put on hold and only the emergent cases were taking place. Prior to COVID, we would have five cardiologists/nurse practitioners on our floor at any given time during the day. Now we have one cardiologist and one nurse practitioner to see all of the cardiac patients throughout the hospital in order to limit the exposure to our staff. Thankfully, we have started to reopen our cath lab to be able to do some of the elective procedures again.”

Due to the pandemic, “Every staff member in the hospital is required to wear a mask to and from our vehicles and all throughout the day. There is a designated COVID floor in which special PPE (personal protective equipment) is required .... Every patient that comes in from the emergency department is tested for the virus with results returning within two hours. Upon transferring to the floor, every patient receives a mask and wears it when medical staff are in the room.”

The daughter of Tuba and Pam Narwold, Batesville, reveals, “I think my training and work experience has helped in a lot of aspects of this pandemic. After all, we are trained to deal with a wide variety of disease processes. What it didn’t prepare me for was to watch people die with strangers – nursing and other medical staff. Thankfully, our hospital allows families to visit in end-of-life cases if the patient is expected to pass within the day. However, some families are hesitant to come say their goodbyes for fear of getting the virus themselves. In return, these patients are left to pass without the presence of loved ones. It’s a sad time for us. But many of us have sat and prayed with patients, facetimed with family members and have had to make the awful call that their loved one has moved on from this life to the next.”

“My family has been nothing but supportive through all of this,” notes 33-year-old Greensburg resident, who graduated from the Good Samaritan College of Nursing. “My husband, Scott, bless his heart, has been my rock. Some days are obviously harder than others, but he is so kind and gentle to listen and wipe my tears. With planting season in full swing, my family has helped with our little one, Grace, making sure she gets picked up from the sitter, and providing a safe place for her to play while both of us work late. Family and friends have done ‘well checks’ to make sure my mental, physical and emotional health is all in check. For all of that, I am forever grateful.”

Her advice to members of the public is to “please make sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds.” To determine how long this is, “you could say the ABC’s, sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ or my personal favorite, say the Lord’s Prayer. Try to keep your hands away from your face. Stay positive, and know that we as health care professionals are doing our best to keep you and your loved ones safe.”

She recommends, “Don’t take time for granted .... Stay safe. Don’t lose faith and pray. Thank you for the outpouring of love and support you have shown all of the front line workers. Thank you for the prayers, the positive thoughts, words of encouragement and food. You all have helped us through some incredibly trying times.”

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