By Marlana Smith
Healthcare workers have had to make adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Randi Donaldson of Shelbyville is a prime example.
Donaldson is a Family Nurse Practitioner. She worked for Blessing Health System in Quincy, Ill, specifically with Blessing Physician Services in the walk-in clinic and convenient care settings prior to the COVID-19 changes.
She has been a nurse for Blessing Hospital for eight years.
Donaldson said it was decided that their team of providers and staff would head the Flu-Like Screening Center.
“Patients are referred to the center after they call the Blessing hotline, where they talk to a registered nurse who determines if they have flu-like symptoms that require further testing,” she said.
Donaldson said the facility has not any difficulties with being provided with the proper protective equipment. She said Blessing Health System started its preparation well in advance of any cases being announced in the area.
On Monday, March 16, Donaldson self-quarantined in a camper. As of Friday, April 24, she had been living in the camper for five weeks.
Donaldson said she and husband, Aaron, made the decision for her to self-quarantine.
“I felt that due to the area in which I would be working and could potentially be exposed on a daily basis to COVID-19, it was in the best interest of those living in the same household as me, my family and my community,” she said.
Donaldson said she is thankful for Penny Barr who let her put the camper on her property so she could still be close to her family.
“I have a new appreciation for those people who work away from home and live in their campers during the week or whenever they are working,” Donaldson said.
Randi said Aaron and her father, Brad Willey, would come down when she finished showering and unhook the water outside the camper so it didn’t freeze.
“I have to be thankful because my situation could be a lot worse,” Donaldson added.
She admitted it is difficult being away from her husband and family, but she can talk to them through an electronic device.
Sometimes her sister Ashley and nephews Gavin and Kolton sit across the road in their yard so they can visit. Her nephew, Oren, brings a chair down and sits about 20-30 feet away to visit, too.
Donaldson added, “I hope everyone is taking proper precautions within their homes and keeping their distance from one another, but it is different when you are completely living in another place than them.”
Randi said on her days off she does find herself bored. She said she has cleaned out the fence row, sewed masks for her co-workers and works on their new house plans.
Ashley has helped her with the masks. Donaldson said they take proper precautions, and make sure they hand-wash well before touching the fabric.
Donaldson will be off from Tuesday, April 28 until May 22. She will quarantine for two weeks in the camper. As long as she is symptom-free, she plans to go home on May 12 after eight weeks out of her house.
After time off and if the Flu-Like Screening Center is still being held, she will go back to the camper.
Donaldson said there will probably be a chance of exposure for years to come, but she won’t always be in the position where she is working in the area where most respiratory illnesses are referred.
“The way of living will potentially never go back to ‘normal’ for anyone anywhere. There may become a ‘new normal,’ and there is still a lot to be learned from this pandemic,” Donaldson added.
Donaldson advised people in the coming weeks to continue to proceed with caution and not to believe everything on social media.
“I am working in a ‘frontline’ area as people call it, but really all of the population and all jobs are frontline because this virus has been known to be present without symptoms.
“We all could be among people with the virus and not even know it. This is why social distancing is important and why I say that I believe there will be a ‘new normal’ when going out into the public and such to eat or get your groceries or whatever.
“I just want our community to stay safe, and that will take the entire community being proactive and taking this situation seriously,” Donaldson said.