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Health care workers lauded with award

Dr. Kathy Selvaggi speaks at Thursday's Butler County Health Care Consortium Health Care Worker Recognition breakfast at The Atrium. Seb Foltz/Butler Eagle

FRANKLIN TWP. — Doctors were recognized alongside housekeepers, dietary aides and maintenance personnel working at health care facilities at the fifth annual Butler County Health Care Consortium Health Care Worker Recognition breakfast Thursday at The Atrium.

The consortium presented a mantel clock to 27 health care employees who were nominated by the organizations that form the consortium.

Dr. Kathy Selvaggi, chief community health officer at Butler Health System, was guest speaker. About 100 people attended.

Selvaggi said lauding the work of those employed in health care is more important now than ever, as COVID-19 has caused stress, anxiety, depression and other negative impacts.

“The role of health care workers in the pandemic has been enormous, and we have to acknowledge them,” Selvaggi said. “We are all here, and we keep doing what we do every day. We’re still caring for people.”

She advised the nurses, aides, occupational therapists, dietary and housekeeping workers, and all other health care employees attending to take time to care for themselves as the pandemic plays out, so they can continue to care for others.

“We are allowed to cry or go into a room and scream,” Selvaggi said.

She said taking time for oneself and pursuing interests that provide relaxation or happiness are the best ways for stressed-out health care workers to care for themselves.

Meditation, prayer or hobbies, such as Selvaggi’s — baking and listening to Frank Sinatra — can provide much-needed downtime that can calm the nerves and restore energy, she said.

She said Butler Health System offers music therapy and massage therapy to workers who are feeling maxed out.

“It is not selfish,” Selvaggi said. “I think we are challenged right now more than ever, but we will get through this.”

Those who attended the recognition breakfast were thankful that health care workers in the county are being recognized.

Paul Weifenbaugh, new assistant director of the Tri-County Workforce Investment Board, said everyone who works in the health care industry has been dealing with additional stress for two years.

“They’ve done a great job, the whole way from maintenance to the front lines,” Weifenbaugh said.

Mary Salony, executive director of the board, said her organization provides training and works with various industries to help employers and job seekers find one another.

She said the consortium’s annual recognition event is important.

“Our employers chose this as something they really want to do,” Salony said. “The employees know they are appreciated and what they do matters.”

Abigail Hiles, a licensed practical nurse at Quality Life Services in Donegal Township, was one of the honorees at the event.

Her bio stated that Hiles has consistently gone above and beyond to help her coworkers provide excellent care to residents and voluntarily pick up shifts as a nurse and aide.

“There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that goes into health care now,” Hiles said.

Samantha Skibinski, RN and assistant director of nursing, said workers at QLS already were family to patients, but became their only family early in the pandemic when visitors were prohibited.

“It’s hard to see the residents mourn,” Skibinski said. “(Employees) did a fantastic job. One of the beauties of going through this was seeing everyone pull together, no matter the challenges.”

Sheri Scott, an occupational therapist with LIFE Butler County, also received a mantel clock on Thursday.

“It’s important to let the workers know how important they are to the community,” Scott said. “I’m honored to be here. Being appreciated for what we do is very nice.”

Cheri Wright, who works in the dietary department at Transitions Healthcare Autumn Grove in Harrisville, also was honored Thursday.

“We work behind the scenes sometimes, and that recognition is not always there,” she said. “I feel like my work has paid off.”

During his closing remarks, Dr. David Vasil, adult hospitalist director at Butler Health System and the medical director for Heritage Hospice, summed up the thoughts of everyone who congratulated the 27 honorees.

“Obviously, there are a lot of compassionate people in this room,” Vasil said.

Dr. David J. Vasil speaks at Thursday's Thursday's Butler County Health Care Consortium Health Care Worker Recognition breakfast at The Atrium. Seb Foltz/Butler Eagle