Sanford reinforces ‘community’ amid coronavirus pandemic

Stacy Wrightsman's Community Relations team reaches out, encourages connections

A portrait of Stacey Wrightsman, a community relations leader for Sanford Health.

In the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis, our communities are turned upside-down.

One witness to the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is Sanford Health Community Relations Executive Director Stacy Wrightsman, who’s working with Sanford’s community partners — big and small — in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, region to help during this time of need.

“Because this is an unknown time, and it is possibly a marathon, we don’t know what the weeks and months have to bring,” Wrightsman said. “People are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic differently, and that’s OK. I think those random acts of kindness, they shouldn’t be minimized. To be that listening ear is something that matters to our community. Our team is trying to be that for our community right now.”

Her team is looking at what they do in a whole new way.

“Functionally, we’ve changed by doing a lot more via phone, Skype, email, personal snail mail cards, just so our partners in the community know we’re there,” Wrightsman said. “We just think it’s important as a team within Sanford Health to make those meaningful connections even if we don’t have anything specific, even if we don’t have anything to offer right now, just to say we’re here.”

How to help others

The Community Relations team is addressing what people can do to help right now.

If you want to do something that will make a difference, reinforce and build up that community, Wrightsman said, you can start here:

  • Employee Crisis Fund gifts: Help the health care workers who have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak. This fund supports Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society team members who are facing unexpected financial hardship.
  • Emerging Threats Fund gifts: Gifts to this fund help ensure Sanford Health has the resources available to swiftly address health care threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Face masks: Support our patients and team members by donating homemade, surgical or N95 face masks. Follow these easy instructions to sew homemade face masks for health care workers. Learn more about where to give.
  • Unopened disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer: These supplies help us stop the spread of infection. Learn more about where to give.
  • Blood donations: Demand for donated blood has stayed the same while supply declined due to canceled blood drives. Please consider donating to save lives today. It’s completely safe to give if you’re healthy.
  • Community Impact Survey: Complete a 10-minute survey by the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and the USD Sanford School of Medicine and tell your local leaders how you’re doing.

In the interest of employee safety and health, all food donations must be packaged and individually wrapped. Non-commercial food donations will not be accepted at this time. Please consider donating to the Employee Crisis Fund to support our health care team and their families.

Practice physical distancing, not social

Wrightsman encourages us to be mindful of our surroundings but to know that this is when we need to stay connected.

“Now, more than ever, we need to reach out. Don’t assume things are normal. I think that’s something our team is going out to encourage, not only within our Sanford family but just within our community. There are other ways to communicate. Technology can afford us to call or Skype… FaceTime with family and friends. We don’t want people to stop doing that, we want to encourage them to continue to do that.”

She has confidence the community is in capable hands.

“Not only are we part of the community, but we’re also caring for our community as a health care organization,” Wrightsman said. “I have this sense of ease. I have faith in the work that we do and the people leading our organization. We’re going to get through this.”

As the team continues to assess the areas of need, she encourages people to connect with Sanford Health if there are ways the organization can help.

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Posted In Community, Coronavirus, News

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