Alayna Martel, of Barre Town, is a registered nurse at UVM Medical Center. She talks about how, as a frontline workers, her life has been affected by the pandemic.

How are you handling self-isolation?During this pandemic, I’ve been handling the self-isolation thoughtfully and carefully. Being a nurse and working on the front line, contracting the virus myself is always a risk, but my biggest concern is the possibility of transmitting the disease to my loved ones, or the patients I care for. For that reason, it has been my top priority to comply with the recommended self-isolation regulations to protect my family and my community.

What has been the biggest challenge for you?Along with the rest of the world, my biggest challenge has been time lost with my family. I am thankful that my family is healthy and well. It’s been very difficult to see patients, at their most vulnerable, sit in their hospital bed all alone because visitors are restricted from entering the hospital. It has actually been heartbreaking.

What has been the most pleasant surprise?I was most pleasantly surprised that health care facilities in Vermont did not get a large surge of sick COVID-19 patients. Leading up to this, everyone in the hospital was on egg shells, scared of the uncertain, and preparing for the worst. Vermont has done a great job at limiting the spread of infection.

How much of what you’re doing do you think will you carry forward after the pandemic?I have always thought very highly of proper hand hygiene, but wearing a mask for 12 hours at a time, and whenever I go out in public has been an adjustment. I don’t think the requirement of wearing a face mask at all times in the hospital will disappear anytime soon. I guess I’ll get good at smiling with my eyes.

And what do you feel the lessons will be that come out of all of this?I feel that the lesson of gratitude will come out of this. When the entire nation shut down, we noticed the people who make a true difference in this life, those who we cannot live without. We need health care workers, we need grocery store employees, gas station employees, postal service, delivery drivers, etc. Without the essential workers, these last few months would not have been possible.

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