LaWanda Novotny’s voice cracked with emotion. It’s been a tough year, and it became even more difficult at Stanton Health Center when COVID-19 officially breached its perimeter late last month.
“This is rough on families,” said Novoty, who has been an LPN at the facility for 20 years. “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be at the end of their loved one’s lives. You’re supposed to be able to come in and say your goodbyes. They’re not able to do that, so this is rough.”
The positive cases of the coronavirus continue to rise in Stanton County. Monday’s numbers from the Elkhorn Logan Valley Health Department indicate there are currently 222 active COVID-19 cases and 372 total positive cases since March.
Public numbers show there have been no deaths in the county related to the virus. But many say that’s not accurate. As the virus continues to force a quarantine at the Stanton Health Center, employees need a morale boost, according to the center’s board.
That’s why they reached out to the community for help.
“After fighting hard to keep COVID out for 9 months, it has reached our building,” the board said in a statement. “Our employees are giving their all to help our residents get the care they need and deserve. They are putting in extra hours and putting their own health at risk.”
A Wish List tree has been placed at First Nebraska Bank and Stanton Hardware with ornaments for the employees. Community members can select an ornament from the trees and show appreciation to the workers through their wish list, which may include a favorite snack or another minor, yet very meaningful, tidbit about them.
Community members are asked to drop off the wish list items to Stanton Hardware by December 21.
As expected, Stanton is answering the board’s call to rally around the health care workers and embrace them with support. Dozens of ornaments have already been claimed.
Novotny said she never expected the community to reach out like they have to support the staff, but she appreciates the kindness now more than ever.
“I was shocked when I heard the community was doing this,” she said. “It’s really tough right now, and we appreciate everyone’s support and understanding, especially the families. They have been very supportive.”
Beth Petersen, who is in accounts receivable at the facility, has worked at the center for nearly 22 years. She was quick to say others at the facility who need the support more than she. Still, Petersen admitted the situation is tough for all employees, and she, too, appreciates the kind words and support of the community.
“I spend time in the office and stay distanced from people,” she said. “It’s been difficult for everyone, and we’re always thinking about it. This is a very nice thing the community is doing for staff.”
Novotny, who has lived in Stanton County her entire life, said having both families and the community support them during this very difficult time means so much more than anyone knows.
“Times are rough right now, and we’re doing our best,” she said. “The support of the community makes a big difference in staff morale. When you feel like someone out there cares about what you’re going through, it means so much.”