The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur organized a drive-by parade of local residents Tuesday to thank St. Joseph's Hospital employees for their continuing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upshur residents, Rotary Club salute St. Joseph’s Hospital employees for their efforts on the frontline of pandemic

BUCKHANNON – Local healthcare workers were treated to free lunch and thank-you parade Tuesday, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur and community members.

As part of an effort to demonstrate their gratitude to healthcare workers and first responders, the Rotary Club delivered more than 250 box lunches St. Joseph’s Hospital staff Tuesday.

Rotary President Dan Martin said the club had been working on several ways to show gratitude to medical workers and first responders. The club has already put a banner up at the foot of the hill at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and they are working on getting banners up at Buckhannon City Hall and the courthouse recognizing all first responders.

“The school board bought food and had used restaurants in the county to prepare items, so we thought, ‘why don’t we do lunches and buy as much local as possible?’” Martin said. “We got a number of restaurants that prepared the pepperoni rolls for today and then a couple of other companies helped order small fruit cups, and we have homemade cookies and we are distributing them to people at St, Joseph’s.”

On the same day, the Rotary Club also helped organize a drive-by parade to thank the employees of St. Joseph’s.

The Buckhannon Police Department and Buckhannon Fire Department led a drive-by salute to healthcare workers Tuesday at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“It’s for the hospital employees and we asked the community to be involved, if people could drive up, please do,” Martin said. “People don’t have to get out of the car – it’s just the presence of driving through and saying thank you.”

President of St. Joseph’s hospital Skip Gjolberg said the staff at St. Joseph’s appreciated the drive-by parade.

“We were really excited. We have a couple of hospital employees who are Rotarians and they came back and said, ‘hey, the Rotary Club would like to do this,’ and we’re like, ‘great!’” Gjolberg said. “It’s been a long haul for us, so it really helps cheer up the staff.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital employees on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic wave at a drive-by parade organized to salute their efforts.

He said the hospital has been preparing as much as possible and had additional employees working from home.

“It’s been a lot of preparation – we’ve kind of changed how we staff a little bit,” Gjolberg said. “We’ve had a number of employees who are working from home now, and that’s been a different experience, and we may end up with some employees working from home on a more permanent basis. We’re realizing that this does work for some people pretty well, and it also frees up some office space for some other workers.”

The hospital has also set up a tent outside the main entrance to examine patients before they enter the hospital.

“We’ve set up and you’ve seen the tent out front, our triage tent,” Gjolberg said. “When people come, we can we can assess them before they get into the building and try to figure out what they’re here for and if it’s something that’s potentially COVID-related, then we handle them and give them a mask and get them into a special waiting space for testing.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital employees clap following a drive-by parade organized by the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur late Tuesday morning.

He said they have also worked toward increasing virtual and telephone visits.

“It’s harder for people in in Upshur County because we don’t have the broadband density in the rural areas and not even good cell phone coverage in these areas,” Gjolberg said, “but we can do these telephonic visits, so we do a lot of telephonic visits. We do some video visits, not as many as UHC does up in Clarksburg in Bridgeport or Morgantown, but it’s definitely increased a lot.”

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