CalVet Connect highlights another hero among the staff members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in caring for our veterans and their spouses at our Veterans Homes of California during the COVID-19 pandemic.
BARSTOW HOME’S CHIEF NURSE BROUGHT CALM AMID COVID-19 STORM
Throughout the pandemic, Theresa Estep found herself playing many roles as the Veterans Homes of California-Barstow’s director of nursing. She was a boss, a leader, a mentor, a friend, and often a great listener to the nurses who worked tirelessly despite the risks involved in treating veterans in the Red Zone Isolation unit.
One conversation she had reflected both her understanding of the passion a certified nursing assistant (CNA) showed for her job, and her skills and humanity as a leader.
“She dedicated herself to her duties without wavering,” Estep said of the CNA. “Such bravery and dedication to these residents and her co-workers and self-sacrifice was above expectation; she never once complained. One day she told me she was scared, she did not want to get COVID; but this was well into the outbreak already and she had already dedicated so many days.”
Indeed, the virus that came with no defined blueprint for treatment tested the wills and resolves of nurses across the country. In this case, Estep provided the subtle words of encouragement the nurse needed.
“I told her she was doing the right thing with her PPE and infection control practices as she herself never got sick with COVID-19,” Estep said. “This just showed me her vulnerability as a human; and, although daily she was faced with this task of taking care of the sick and some dying, she came to work and dedicated herself to work with the sickest and most infectious of our veterans.”
Estep understands that caring for the Home’s veterans and their spouses can best be done when the nursing staff feels cared for as well. The culture she’s created there helped the Barstow Home maintain its five-star quality of care rating despite the pandemic.
WHAT VARIOUS STAFF MEMBERS SAID ABOUT ESTEP:
- “Theresa did this with grace and tenacity so that we, ‘the frontline workers’ had the necessary tools and staff we needed to take care of our residents’ physical and mental well-being.”
- “Her job is not glamorous and she rarely gets a ‘thank you.’” Without her, we would not be able to manage, educate, heal, and care for our residents and staff.”
- “She worked tirelessly around the clock 24-7 to help manage staffing, staffing questions, contact tracing; and she maneuvered through mounds of regulatory requirements so that we were able to provide the highest quality of care during unprecedented times. Accomplishing a Five-Star rating during a pandemic!”
- “She certainly has the strength and resilience to manage an entire nursing department. Without her commitment to her staff and her leadership, this pandemic could have gone a completely different way.”
WHAT THE HOME’S ADMINSTRATOR SAID:
“You achieve greatness when you tap into the potential of your team. Only an elite leader can instill such loyalty and devotion in a team, such as what Theresa has done.” — Lawrence Pangilinan