Healthcare Heroes - The Bend Magazine

Healthcare Heroes

How front-line workers are providing necessary care throughout COVID-19

By: Alexis Mays  Photos by: Lillian Reitz

We are living in history. COVID-19 turned the world upside-down this year, and it has forever changed life in many ways, for many people. Throughout the pandemic, many temporarily closed their doors as everyone sought to flatten the curve. However, essential businesses had to find ways to continue operating. And fearless front line workers will forever be remembered as our bravest heroes.

Countless stories have poured in from across the world about the selfless care that doctors, nurses, paramedics, and all necessary workers give each day. Because when it comes to managing COVID-19 in healthcare settings, from ambulances to hospitals, care had to be taken to the next level.
Micki Hauser has been a registered nurse for more than 25 years, most of which were in critical care. Hauser’s career led her to become a Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) over the past 10 years, and she spent the last few years as CNO at Post Acute Medical Rehabilitation and Long-Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH) of Corpus Christi.
Life-changing care is provided every minute at Post Acute, from caring for those who are acutely ill to providing rehabilitation needed to function in daily life. These are services that patients cannot live without, and Hauser explained that’s why they began planning and preparing long before positive cases were confirmed in South Texas. 
“Even when COVID-19 seemed very far away, we asked ourselves, ‘Are we ready for that?’ And we began preparing.”
It was critical that they ensured people could still receive occupational, physical, and speech therapy. Because if someone misses or terminates their care, Hauser said, it has dire health consequences. 
“Without rehab, the level of debilitation that occurs is profound,” Hauser says. “Rehab provides that strengthening and endurance building to be able to return people to their home and their daily lives. Inactivity means you can lose the ability to do basic things, such as moving from the living room to the bathroom, or even having the ability to stand up.”
Hauser described how their team pivoted in these new times: “Our company formed an EMA – emergency management agency – and the team provided a day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour, update of the information and resources we’d need to continue providing care.”
From masks to goggles to equipment and technology, the agency ensured the Post Acute hospitals and clinicians had what they needed to provide care. This also meant installing increased safety measures. 
“As the virus ramped up, we ramped up restrictions of visitors. That was, probably, the hardest part. We’re in the business of caring for people, and we know part of that healing process very intimately involves family, and having the family unit together. People heal better when their families are with them,” she says – which is why they adapted to the situation, using glass separators and video calls to ensure families stayed connected with their loved ones and could receive updates from doctors. These alternatives kept people connected during a situation that could have created more distance. As Hauser says, “Just because we’re separated, doesn’t mean we’re not together.” In fact, Hauser knows that amid all the social distancing, this time has also brought everyone closer together. 
“My hope and inspiration comes from watching and working with my team.” Hauser says. “The camaraderie, the teamwork, the way we’ve come together to deliver care is inspiring. Our teamwork means they’re not alone, and I’m not alone.”
It wasn’t just families of patients, but also families of the staff that were remembered. The Post Acute team sent letters to family members of the nursing staff to thank them for supporting each of the mothers, fathers, spouses, and more as they worked on the front lines for those in need.
The dedication and sacrifice of healthcare workers changes all lives, and as Hauser explained, the benefits are felt both ways.
“Rehab means we can return people to their homes. It is truly one of the most gratifying things for us to see someone able to return to the place they love.” 
Because for Hauser, healthcare is equally a passion and a calling. 
“I am so proud to be in a servant industry, and not only serve the patients, but also care for the people who are caring for patients.”
We at The Bend Magazine recognize, honor, and thank all front line workers for their service and care throughout this time.