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One year since COVID-19 declared a global pandemic, what Idaho health experts learned

“A lot of our staff are still deeply affected by what they saw this year and the things they went through have been traumatic for them," one healthcare worker said.

BOISE, Idaho — One year ago  - on March 11, 2020 - the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

Idaho has come a long way since that day when health care workers were understaffed and overworked, fighting to find resources and a cure for the virus.

“Not only were they facing something that they had never dealt with before and didn’t know how to treat exactly, and we learned as we went, but they were sick too and a lot of people out that left large staffing shortages,” said Tracee Hendershot, chief nursing officer at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell.

Primary Health CEO Dr. David Peterman says he, like a lot of other medical professionals, was surprised at how severe the effects of the pandemic have been on all aspects of life.

“I don't think anyone in the healthcare profession could have predicted that a half million people in the United States would die,” he said. “That schools, businesses would close, that we would all have to be at home, its been absolutely remarkable, literally from the beginning day-by-day.”

Peterman and Hendershott both said, although the pandemic is not over, the Gem State has come a long way since March 2020. They note that there are some beneficial things health experts have learned from this pandemic.

“When coronavirus is over, I think there will be a consideration for wearing masks,” Peterman said. “Look how we didn't see any influenza, with children didn't see all the colds, the runny noses.”

Both experts agree that they’ve learned how to communicate effectively with patients.

“Now we have the ability to do so much more telemedicine, for consults, for seeing your family practitioner," Hendershott said. "I think this is going to open up a whole new world of ways that people are going to be able to access healthcare when they couldn't previously."

While there are some practices experts say are worth keeping. One thing will be impossible to ignore.

“I feel like a lot of our staff are still deeply affected by what they saw this year and the things they went through have been traumatic for them,” Hendershott said. “I am just grateful, grateful for our staff, for the support and resources, and grateful we were able to manage with what we had.”

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