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FORT WALTON BEACH — Working in a hospital during a global pandemic doesn’t seem to rattle Em Dewey, who has worked in the intensive care unit at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center since last fall.

“I think there’s a chance for exposure everywhere,” Dewey said about the coronavirus. “Like in the community, you see people wearing gloves in the grocery store, and if you pick up a piece of fruit and put it back down, you know, that’s exposed everyone (to the virus). So I don’t feel any higher risk here in the hospital than out in the community.”

She said her job is to assess patients every day and throughout the shift, noting any changes in their breathing and other conditions and informing the doctor. Dewey then enacts the doctor’s plan of care, whether it calls for medications or treatments, and works to coordinate the plan with all healthcare providers involved.

As for precautions to protect herself from the coronavirus while working with patients, Dewey said there was always an expectation before the pandemic outbreak for good hand hygiene: “Making sure you’re using sanitizer in and outside of the patient’s room, before you put on gloves, when you change gloves,” she said.

During the coronavirus crisis, she and her coworkers wear N95 masks, which are especially important when working in the ICU, where staff might be performing a procedure to get a better look at a patient’s lungs or be treating a patient who is on a ventilator.

“We still have masks and gowns and hair covers, so everything we need to protect from droplets that could come towards us,” Dewey said.

Many people would agree that healthcare workers around the world are among the people performing heroic work on the frontline of the pandemic. For Dewey, what seems most impressive during the crisis is seeing people come together for the common good.

“I think it takes a special person to work in healthcare at any level, from our environmental and culinary to the physicians to all members of our staff,” she said. “I think the pandemic has really brought out a sense of teamwork in all of that, and there is certainly an added level of stress or urgency, but I think you see everyone just continue to come together and work in all parts.”

And inspiration is not in short supply.

“I’m inspired by all the good stories you hear in communities that are stepping up and coming together, whether it’s donating food and masks or helping neighbors,” Dewey said. “And for me personally, my family and my husband have been really inspiring and supportive of me and all the work that I do, especially during this pandemic.”