By ANGYE MORRISON
When it was clear that the COVID pandemic would mean that it was “all hands on deck” for local health care workers, Deborah Scott came out of retirement after a 40-year nursing career and went back to work.
Scott, 67, has been working at The Lodge at Bethany in Statesboro since last spring. While the long shifts and anxiety about bringing COVID into her own home are wearing on her, Scott says she doesn’t regret her decision.
“I told myself, you could be in the ICU on a ventilator. You could leave your children and grandchildren behind. But I had to do it,” she said.
Now Scott is being honored for her dedication and sacrifice as a local hero by the Frontline Impact Project. Frontline matches companies that have products to donate with frontline institutions in need. Becky Livingston, CEO at The Lodge, submitted a request for resources last fall, saying, “Our frontline workers have worked tirelessly to take care of the seniors in our assisted living community since the pandemic began. These items would bring joy to their lives.”
The KIND Foundation, a charitable entity started by KIND Snacks, launched Frontline in April 2020. The organization provided KIND bars, Kate Farms nutrition shakes, Purely Elizabeth granola and Chixotic tea to the workers at The Lodge.
“When COVID-19 hit, KIND wanted to donate snacks to frontline workers, but we encountered logistical challenges when trying to equitably reach groups outside of our network at scale. When we realized that others were facing similar barriers, we built Frontline Impact Project to make it as easy as possible for companies to support those who give so much but receive so little,” said Daniel Lubetzky, KIND founder.
After the request from The Lodge was fulfilled, Ashley Phillips, KIND’s Director of Communications, says she stayed in touch with Livingston.
“She later shared Deborah’s story with us. We were struck by Deborah’s willingness to come out of retirement to work on a COVID unit,” Phillips said.
“There could not be another individual who has dedicated more time, energy and compassion than Deborah in the last eight months of this pandemic, and she continues even now as a part-time consultant to the organization, serving to assist us as we complete our vaccination clinics for the health and well-being of our residents and staff,” said Livingston.
Scott’s story has been shared by Lubetzky on his social media channels as part of a “Frontline Friday” series. The series brings unsung heroes’ stories to light and reveals the sacrifices of those on the frontlines. She was the second person to appear in the series.
“Frontline Impact Project was created to support frontline workers who have gone above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic. Deborah Scott is one such person. She is kind to everyone — from her coworkers to her patients and their families — and consistently puts others before herself. When she heard about what was going on at The Lodge at Bethany back in the spring, her first words were, ‘What do you need me to do?’ Her compassion and commitment to others is something that is worth honoring. She is an extraordinary role model for us all,” said Michael Johnston, president of The KIND Foundation.
Scott was born and raised in Bulloch County. She has a very diverse history in the health care field, which she says has provided her with a strong foundation in patient care.
“My early nursing experience was in the medical surgical area of nursing which has provided a great deal of assistance to me in recognizing and managing signs and symptoms of patients and then assisting in their medication management. I saw a chaotic shift as an opportunity to learn new ideas and concepts and to engage my patients and assist them with their needs,” she said.
Scott continued to work to learn more ideas and concepts to engage her patients and assist them with their needs, and went on to manage an outpatient surgery center, worked as a school nurse and taught for 15 years in the nursing programs at a local community college. She was hired at The Lodge originally in 2015, and retired in March 2020.
Her current work at The Lodge, she says, is intertwined with the mission and values there: “We are called to serve,” and “Every act is one of compassion.”
“My commitment to serve and to do so with compassion marries quite well with their mission and values. The work that is done is certainly not a ‘job’ but a fulfillment of a desire to be a part of the quality health care that is required to meet the mission and values in every aspect of care,” she said.
Scott works at least 20 hours a week at The Lodge, providing oversight to the Clinical Coordinator and the Administrator with regard to nursing decisions relative to the care provided to residents.
“In addition, I am responsible for providing the direction of Infection Control and the Quality Assurance Performance Improvement processes and documentation,” she said.
She says it was important to come out of retirement at this time because she saw a need to ensure families and residents that the best care would be provided in the worst of times.
“My decision to assist at The Lodge was not out of a feeling of obligation, but a knowledge that my calling was to be readily available to help in any way that I was needed. There was never any doubt in my mind that this pandemic presented a challenging time and that I could and was called to help,” she said.
Scott says she is truly humbled and honored to be recognized by the Frontline Impact Project. But she is quick to point out that she is not the only one working the frontlines.
“We must not forget that there are many, many heroes who are working tirelessly to bring care and comfort, not only to the residents at The Lodge but to all patients that are affected by COVID, and those offering comfort to the families,” she said. “Heroes are very special and they all do not run into burning buildings, but we all definitely make a difference. It truly ‘takes a village.’ I am grateful that God has given me the honor and good health to be able to make a difference in the lives of others throughout my career, and this is no different.”
When asked what advice she would give her peers, she says, “This too shall pass.”
“We, as frontline workers, experience many fears as we leave our homes and families to go into a unit where there is pain, uncertainty and suffering. To do so is not an easy decision, but it comes with a deep commitment and dedication to caring and nurturing for those who need us,” she said. “I challenge each health care worker to live by the following quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up … discovering we have the strength to stare it down.’”