We are shining a light on our #healthcareheroes. Meet three professionals from our Department of Speech Pathology.
What inspires you to be a caregiver?
Dale R. Gregore, MS. CCC SLP, BCS-S: This is what I was meant to do. Helping patients communicate; to hear their voice for the first time after the trach has been removed; to help a patient swallow safely without risk of choking; to help restore the ability to read and understand; or to write a meaningful sentence. … This is the role of a speech pathologist in acute care. It absolutely makes our day, seeing our patients improve.
Danielle Dowd, MA, CCC-SLP, assistant manager: I enjoy helping people in any way I can. I’m a firm believer in treating people as I would like to be treated. I try to live by that rule every day. It brings me joy to know that I helped someone’s mom, dad, grandparent, child, sister or brother.
Lauren Kestel, MS CCC-SLP, speech language pathologist: My inspiration comes from knowing that I’m working to give people something that they can enjoy (like eating) and providing them with a path to resume some small element of normalcy in their lives. Helping during a crisis is a way for me to remain calm and manage my own stress in challenging situations. Shifting my focus away from the fear and uncertainty and towards the impact I can have on people’s lives gives me meaning and purpose in a time many are struggling to find these things.
How as your typical workday changed? What work are you doing or doing differently because of COVID-19?
Gregore: With the restrictions to some of our special diagnostic tests, we have had to redesign our clinical decision-making and relearn to “trust your gut” or “take it slow” in the name of patient safety.
Dowd: As a caregiver in a major health care organization I think I have always been aware of the importance of hygiene, however since COVID-19 I am acutely aware of everything that I do and what others do related to hygiene. My daily ritual of making sure everything is wiped down in my house, my car, our work spaces has increased tenfold. I spend more time actively listening to other caregivers’ concerns, fears and anxiety. I also spend more time with patients to ensure that they feel safe and understood, especially now when they do not have their loved ones visiting.
Kestel: It seems normal at this point, but at first wearing masks, disposable scrubs, goggles and a face shield was a strange alteration to my day. It was an obvious physical barrier between myself, my patients, and fellow caregivers. As a speech therapist, communication is such an important part of my day and I felt the strain of not seeing faces and making that kind of connection with my patients, colleagues and friends. I still miss seeing the smiles of certain colleagues as I go about my day, but I know it’s a small price to pay for protection and safety in the pandemic.
What keeps you motivated during these uncertain times?
Gregore: Seeing patients recover; working closely with our valued teams; having caregivers unite for patient and staff safety … all these things are inspiring and true examples of the ChristianaCare Way.
Dowd: My family and co-workers keep me going. I have a wonderful husband who makes me laugh even in the darkest times, and I have co-workers who exemplify support, patience and understanding. I am surrounded by amazing people every day who enable me to get through the most challenging times.
Kestel: My fellow caregivers have been the biggest support and motivation during this time. They continue to show up every day and face all our challenges bravely and with a positive attitude. Their resilience and enthusiasm to continue to provide excellent care through such an incredible trial is more than enough motivation to keep me going along with them.
What advice do you have for your fellow caregivers?
Gregore: Flexibility is a must during times. That, and patience. Trust that your manager and teammates have your back. Go out of your way to be nice. It makes your heart happy and boosts morale.
Dowd: To continue to laugh and enjoy one another’s company. To lean on one another for support and guidance. This will pass and we will be stronger for it in the end.
Kestel: Take it one step at a time. Do the next small thing and by the end of the day you’ll be amazed at what you’ve accomplished.
What advice do you have for our community?
Gregore: Know that ChristianaCare caregivers live by our core values and behaviors. We are here to serve you and we take pride in being the best at providing excellent care and that your health and safety is our number one goal.
Dowd: Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands and wear your mask. It is simple but it is working.
Kestel: Please continue to be safe and smart as businesses begin to reopen. The pandemic isn’t over and we all still need to work to control the spread to save the lives of our neighbors.