Eye on KELOLAND: On the front lines of COVID-19


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There is an old expression, “not all heroes wear capes.” The majority of us are self-isolating and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, doctors, nurses, scientists, and more are working hard in hospitals and clinics to treat the sick. They’ll tell you they’re just doing their jobs, but they’re risking their own health to keep everyone safe.

Preparing for a pandemic isn’t new. Medical teams were ready for West Nile, Ebola, and H1N1. That same preparation happened now, but the reality of COVID-19 is different.

“We’ve never seen something spread quite like this,” Dr. Jared Friedman, Avera Health, said.

It’s business as usual at hospitals and clinics in KELOLAND. Medical teams are taking care of the usual patients who come in for a variety of reasons, and also individuals who fear they have symptoms of COVID-19.

“We all knew there was a chance at some point in our career when we chose health care or emergency medicine as our profession this might some day happen,” Stesha Oltmanns, certified nurse, said.

Here’s what medical teams are doing. They are screening patients who come to the emergency department for COVID-19 symptoms. They are also relying heavily on telemedicine.

“Part of their visit may be done via video camera. That is in an effort to keep as many health care people not exposed to a potentially infectious patient,” Friedman said.

Just to be safe and prevent any potential spread, even KELOLAND News did not go inside the building. We did these interviews outside and we’re relying on video from Avera and video we already have for this story. We’re doing this out of an abundance of caution and respect for people inside the hospital.”

“We are okay with overreaction at this point, because we want to be fully prepared for a worst-case scenario going forward,” Friedman said.

Preventing the spread of the virus to other patients and community members is a priority, but think about this. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals here are also risking their own health to care for the sick.

“We do think about our families when we’re going home and we take extra precautions, extra handwashing and making sure we’re changing out of scrubs, our uniforms before we’re walking into our houses,” Oltmanns said.

“Our health care staff also feels fear and anxiety, but we have to cope with it and we have to support each other and make sure we all come through this,” Friedman said.

While many of us are staying home, these individuals are going to work.

“It’s been really amazing to watch our team come together and to deal with the challenges this pandemic has provided,” Oltmanns said.

“We chose emergency medicine as doctors and nurses to do this. This is the time we step up and take care of the patients in need at this point,” Friedman said.

Real life heroes don’t wear capes. They wear lab coats, scrubs, uniforms, and stethoscopes.

“We’re here on the frontlines, caring for patients whether we are in a pandemic or not. This was truly a calling for most of us, especially in emergency medicine,” Oltmanns said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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