Healthcare Heroes - Ciara at Heartland Health and Rehabilitation Care Center – Hanahan
Ciara is an occupational therapist working in the COVID-19 Airborne Isolation Unit (CAIU) at Heartland Health and Rehabilitation Care Center – Hanahan, SC. Hear her story and what it’s been like working on the frontlines continuing to help patients recover.
Let me start by saying this: they definitely don’t teach you in occupational therapy school that you may be on the frontline of a global pandemic. But what you do learn is that your job is versatile and can be done in any environment.
No matter the circumstance, my mission as an occupational therapist (OT) is to continue supporting the habits, rituals, roles, routines and behavior patterns of all my patients. I have been treating patients this past week who have tested positive for COVID-19. While you’re allowed as a human to be nervous, my role as an OT could not be any more important especially now. Our patients have been thrown for a loop not only physically and medically, but also emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I want them to find comfort in working with me every day to build the strength and endurance they need in order to get back to doing things as simple as putting a shirt on or getting to the bathroom. It’s my mission to help them overcome these obstacles so they can safely return to their prior level of function and go home to their loved ones.
Our treatment sessions need to be held in the patient’s rooms for their safety, but that hasn’t stopped us from accomplishing their goals. Treatment activities have been focused on activities of daily living, but we’ve had some fun too. We’re designing obstacle courses, making room decorations to hang and having dance parties. I want to be a shoulder to lean on and be their sounding board so they feel heard. I want to give my patients a reason to fight through the COVID-19 chaos and have a reason to smile.
When I’m not treating our therapy patients, I am doing my best to help with other operations at Heartland – Hanahan so the day can run smooth. Stocking linen carts, delivering food trays, helping feed those who need assistance, obtain vitals and assist nurses in providing treatments. I’ve also been able to utilize my clinical reasoning to communicate changes in status to our nurse practitioner.
It’s not slow, you are constantly moving and must remind yourself to eat or drink water. I’ve been there for some really tough moments with our patients and staff. But I want to do my part and serve those who are most vulnerable. I’ve come to know the staff better just because we are helping each other out no matter our role. No one is above a task and it just goes to show you that we are all in this together. Here’s to staying strong and continuing to serve our patients at Heartland – Hanahan with the greatest love and care. – Ciara.