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E Pluribus Unum

Out of Many, One... when we work together, we form one strong entity

Article by Kristen Lynch

Photography by Mark VanderSys/Pixel Light

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

Out of Many, One. This familiar motto may be easily recognized from our everyday pocket change, embossed upon our common nickels and dimes, however, it is the idea that when we work together, we form one strong entity. And such has been the approach from our frontline healthcare workers and their dedicated efforts that are often unseen and unknown from behind the fiery frontlines. 

Unlike other crises, Covid-19 sparked fear and uncertainty on a global level. Words like, ‘shelter in place’, ‘lockdown’, ‘social distancing’ were uniquely adapted into our common vernacular, their usage spreading as quickly as the novel coronavirus spread across our many borders. Photos posted on social media portrayed communities and our country in an unprecedented quarantine with a series of friends and loved ones donning surgical masks, miles of empty freeways, and beaches bereft of the human footprint.

The world suddenly seemed unsafe. Nothing had changed in our familiar tableau, yet everything was different. However, it was in this moment when the world seemed plunged in a shadowy darkness of trepidation was there a sudden and determined spark of resistance. For behind the breaking news briefs and newscasts of charts, graphs, and terrifying numbers, was a corp of dedicated first responders, those who immediately stepped up to the challenge of shedding light upon this invisible enemy.

Epidemiologist and Infectious disease specialist, Dr. Casi Wyatt of Sawtooth Epidemiology & Infectious Diseases, understands this approach implicitly. 

“This has been a unique opportunity for us. We always knew this could happen. As infectious disease doctors, it isn’t really a matter of if, but when.”

And with the might of collective training, knowledge, and expertise for such a crisis, did these specialists begin their campaign of investigative work.

Says Dr. Wyatt, “It is a bit ironic but at our most recent strategic planning session in early 2020, we discussed the skillsets of each of us and were in the process of restructuring our practice to capitalize on those skill sets.  When it became evident that Covid-19 was going to change health care and our community, we were already poised to insert each of us into a role to capitalize on our strengths. My group has partnered with Saint Alphonsus Health System, St. Luke’s Health System, the State of Idaho and many other local community partners to prepare our community for Covid-19. One of the most challenging aspects of this pandemic and probably the biggest test to my leadership has been being able to provide a consistently calm approach to this pandemic by focusing on the facts and trying to calm the fears associated with Covid-19.”   

The plan for battling this pandemic? Teamwork.

Says Dr. Wyatt, of herself and her team of professionals at Sawtooth Epidemiology & Infectious Diseases. “This has been an incredible collaborative effort for my practice. We sat down and we capitalized on each individual because we knew where our strengths were, as we had already had this conversation with each other.”

And it was in this mindset of teamwork that the strategies to combat this disease began to unfold. 

Says Dr. Wyatt, “We needed to figure out what we were dealing with very quickly. And do this in a way that people had confidence in us. And that they trusted us. At the onset of this when the reality was that it was going to impact Boise, when that really hit, all eyes turned to Sawtooth Infectious Disease to provide the guidance for our community.” 

And speaking of community, people tend to forget that doctors and healthcare share the same concerns as those of us in the general public have. Worries about safe health practices as we slowly begin to reopen the economy are still fraught with uncertainty.

Says Dr. Wyatt, “We are all active members of the community outside of healthcare. We have friends and kids in various activities, and friends that own businesses, who are asking questions about their reopening plans, asking for suggestions. We also have a lot of our community members who are leaning upon us to provide some additional unique guidance to their particular situation. And so our impact goes beyond just the hospital preparedness.”

It is at this precipice that we find ourselves now. As though standing on unfamiliar and shaky ground to once again find that balance between safety and returning to normalcy.

Says Dr. Wyatt, “Everyone has the same goal. To open safely. We all realize the economic impacts of all this and how important it is for us to do this. Everyone wants to do the right thing.”

And it is in this spirit of care and concern that summarizes why Boise and the surrounding Treasure Valley should give a moment of pause and thanks to our healthcare providers and those who risk their lives daily to keep us safe and protected. Community plays a huge part in the continuing battle for success and has provided a stark reminder that we are only as strong as our weakest link.

Says Dr. Wyatt, “I am so proud of how our community has rallied together during this time. I appreciate how almost everyone has abided by social distancing recommendations but also love the way that we have continued to be a community. From teddy bears in windows so kids can go on a “bear hunt” to being part of birthday celebrations by driving in a line of honking cars, we have found a way to stay connected. And the outpouring of support for health care workers including local vendors using 3D printers for medical supplies and community members sewing cloth masks for non-medical situations has been phenomenal. I feel very fortunate to live in such a wonderful place.”  

For behind the breaking news briefs and newscasts of charts, graphs, and terrifying numbers, was a corp of dedicated first responders, those who immediately stepped up to the challenge of shedding light upon this invisible enemy.

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