Thrive by IU Health

September 03, 2020

Putting the PT in “redePloymenT”

IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

During the COVID-19 peak quarantine time, a lot of hardworking healthcare employees all over the globe were asked to take on different roles as everything started to shift from “business as usual” to “business during a pandemic”.

IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, IU Health Jay Hospital and IU Health Blackford Hospital team members were no exception.

Overnight, many patient facing professionals were told that they couldn’t see their patients anymore as the entire nation braced for impact and were doing their best to slow the spread.

Instead of letting go of employees, making them use up all of their well-deserved PTO or furloughing them until they could resume at normal capacity, IU Health as a system made sure to use the talents of their team members in any way they could as we as a nation worked through this pandemic and towards a new reality.

Chief among these professionals that found themselves suddenly redeployed were the dedicated Physical, Occupational and Speech therapists that work so hard in our outpatient facilities.
These are just some of their amazing stories.

Danyel Wilson, a Speech-Language Pathologist at IU Health Ball Pediatric Rehab, found herself redeployed into many different roles on many different shifts. Suddenly, she was distributing professionally laundered scrubs to patient facing team members, helping with personal protective equipment (PPE) education and even cuddling babies in the NICU.

“I learned so much about other employees’ jobs,” stated Danyel when asked about her redeployment. “I was thankful for my experience distributing scrubs and going on floors I’d never visited talking about PPE; those nurses and educators are wonderful and so patient and kind to me (and everyone). It was honestly a blessing in disguise running around to all those different places, doing all different things at random hours. I am so thankful to have had these opportunities!”

Another positive from this experience, Danyel recounted, was getting to eat all the tasty food truck food available during the night shifts she had never experienced before. And the delicious hash browns from Subway!

Stephanie Castro, an outpatient Pediatric Occupational Therapist, also found herself redeployed, especially to the NICU, where she did a myriad of jobs to help the staff there.

“I have loved every minute of [working in the NICU],” Stephanie related excitedly. “My youngest sister was a premature baby 22 years ago and spent the first 6 months of her life in the NICU. I was 12 when she was born, and she is the reason I wanted to be an occupational therapist.”

Little did Stephanie know that her role as an occupational therapist would allow her to work in the NICU with these newborns that she could possibly help again later in their lives.

Stephanie was fascinated to see all the advancements in procedures that have happened over the years since her and her family lived what she called the “NICU life” over 22 years ago. Something she might have never witnessed if not for this new and temporary reassignment she found herself in.

Leslie Loesch, a Physical Therapist Assistant in the rehabilitation department at IU Health Jay, was also redeployed from her regular role into many different roles in many different areas including a screener at IU Health Jay and IU Health Blackford, scrub distribution at IU Health Ball, a “gopher” at the Jay Cancer Center, and a cleaner with EVS at IU Health Blackford.

She found herself working many shifts that were starkly different from her usual ones, from early mornings that started at 5am to overnights that ended at 1am, and everything in between.

“While I greatly missed my usual co-workers and definitely missed my patients, I have enjoyed getting to know several team members I otherwise would not have had a chance to meet,” Leslie recalled. “I feel my favorite redeployment was the Jay Cancer Center as the nurses that work there are fabulous and so friendly. They are fantastic with their patients and I had the chance to do something I love which is support patients.”

Not only did these workers learn a lot of new skills during their redeployment, but they were also able to use the skills they already knew in new and different ways.

Ericka Roessner, a Physical Therapist Assistant at Central Indiana Orthopedics, was redeployed to be a screener, one who takes temperatures and screens incoming patients with the CDC regulated COVID-19 questions, at IU Health Jay.

While there, Erica witnessed a patient who was coming in for an appointment unable to get out of their car. Being a PTA, Ericka knew just what to do! She had a fellow PTA, Brian Ison, go and grab a gait belt, a tool used to help lift and transfer patients, and helped to transfer the patient from their car into an awaiting wheelchair. It was a good thing they were overly cautious as this patient ended up being a “max assist” patient.

Stories like these could have never been possible had it not been for a great need arising and selfless individuals putting themselves out of their comfort zone to answer the call.

There are a lot of other departments in our hospitals that have redeployed their workers to help put our patients’ safety first, but in just the Outpatient Rehab department of IU Health Ball, Jay and Blackford alone, workers have devoted more than 8,500 hours of their time to these redeployment efforts.

If that’s not 8,500 reasons to be thankful for them, then we don’t know what is.

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