People of Central – Madeline Solmes

Story by Danielle Patrick

Photo courtesy of Kersten Kruse

For starters, let’s give a big round of applause for all essential workers who are working during COVID-19. They all are our heroes. We can’t imagine the mental, physical and emotional stress that they are going through every day: working overtime to help treat patients, being away from loved ones in fear that they will give their family the virus and not being able to save enough lives because there’s a shortage of equipment.

This is a crucial time for Central Michigan University students who work in healthcare because this will expand their knowledge and it will make them even stronger for the future.

Junior Madeline Solmes is majoring in health administration. She shares her experience being an essential worker for the Isabella County road commission and working in a group home during COVID-19.

Solmes works in a group home in Isabella County and has noticed a mood shift in her patients. Since only six people live in the group home, they are not allowed to leave, except for mandatory doctor appointments or if they have to go to the hospital. Their family or guardians are not allowed to visit. Everything has to be done over the phone or video chats.

Since her patients have a physical or mental disability, they have a routine they do throughout the day. If the routine gets disrupted, their mood changes. Normally, her patients are gone Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. visiting their friends or people they see on a daily basis. Now, they can’t leave the group home.

“It’s difficult to do things with them when the weather isn’t nice outside because you can’t take them for a walk around the block,” Solmes said. “Their attitudes are majorly affected by it.”

Usually, her patients are not sleeping during the day because they are visiting friends, but now, they are all tired.  The patients have full rounds of vitals done every morning and evening. Thankfully, none of her patients, nor herself and the staff, have the coronavirus.

From Solmes’ perspective, working in healthcare during the pandemic has been stressful. Each time that Solmes arrives at work, she has to get her temperature taken and she has to fill out a questionnaire. Halfway through her shift, she has to get her temperature taken again to make sure that she is still safe to perform her tasks.

“If we have symptoms, we are not allowed to work for 14 days from when the symptom ends. You have to bring in a doctor’s note saying that you’re fine, or you have to get tested,” Solmes said.

Being an essential worker right now is difficult because people have to be cautious after their shift in hopes that they don’t spread the virus. Solmes is doing her part of social distancing by staying home after her shift at the group home. She takes her job very seriously, therefore, she is not going to hangout with her friends when she could potentially affect her patients and her coworkers. They are family to her and she cares deeply for each and every one of them.

While at home, Solmes has ordered puzzles to keep her busy and she has watched seven seasons of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. She has enjoyed every bit of TV time that she gets.

There have been concerns around the world about shortages in masks. Solmes can clarify that is true. When the virus started, her group home had only one box of surgical masks left. Now, they have no masks, so she has a cloth mask that she wears during her shift. Unfortunately, she’s allergic to the material where it has made bumps on her cheeks and her face red and itchy. She is hoping that her group home receives disposable masks soon.

“Nobody in healthcare was prepared for this. We only have enough equipment for the normal day-to-day activities,” Solmes said.

Compared to the N95, surgical and FFP1 masks, there is a 0% chance that cloth masks will protect one from the virus. Solmes is thankful to have a cloth mask to wear in public, but she fears that she will get the virus. She wishes to have the N95 masks.

Without a doubt, Solmes’ love for health administration continues as she helps more and more people every day. She is excited to work in a hospital in her future. Most importantly, she loves being able to make a change and a difference in the world.

A huge thank you to Solmes for all of her hard work during the coronavirus pandemic.