The Saint Francis Foundation has begun profiling some of the amazing medical staff at work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dennis Smith, RN
Director, Behavioral Health Unit
Saint Francis Memorial Hospital
Q. What is most challenging about your work during this current crisis?
A. I would say maintaining social distancing with the patients; it’s very challenging because it’s an open unit and patients are allowed to walk around the unit at any given time and we usually have 30 patients. We have been creative by opening another dining area for the patients to allow more space at meal times and limiting all groups to 10 participants and conducting these groups in our largest group room. We encourage all of our patients to wear masks – some do and some don’t.
Q. Why do you do what you do?
A. I love assisting with this specific patient population; we really see people at their worst and with proper time, a structured environment, and proper medications and interventions-those same individuals are discharged and are able to function as needed in our society. Being a part of a unit designed to help our mentally ill brings joy to my heart each and every day.
Q. What are you learning from this unprecedented situation?
A. I’m seeing that we have strong and amazing front line employees that exhibit fearless dedication each and every day they arrive to work. It’s also great to experience everyone working together and ignoring personal differences and biased behaviors.
Q. What do you feel most hopeful about right now?
A. I truly feel that most people are realizing how precious “life” is and how life can change in a matter of hours; I also believe that people will take more charge in maintaining healthier lifestyles and living their lives to the fullest- we’ve been reminded that no one is guaranteed a long and predicted life.