As it does for many, March 12, 2020, marks the day when the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality in central Illinois for MOHA Business Liaison Sue Mullen. As Springfield Clinic’s coordinated response took form over that weekend, the Occupational Medicine team that makes up Springfield Clinic MOHA prepared to care for employees around Springfield, central Illinois and even out of state.
Since that day, MOHA has fit tested over 4,000 people across several organizations, including the fire marshal and the Illinois Department of Public Health, to ensure they can properly wear N95 masks. MOHA nurses and medical assistants have also traveled around the state and into Iowa to screen employees at the entrances to some meat processing facilities, providing coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “Our nursing staff and medical assistants are on the front lines out there,” says Sue. “They’re ensuring that individuals who are coming into these meat processing plants in Illinois and Iowa are fit to come to work.”
Any COVID-19-related work is also on top of MOHA’s normal day-to-day operations, which include treating job-related injuries and advising companies on how to improve health and safety at work. “MOHA has relationships with these companies,” says Sue, “and it’s times like these when our companies need us the most. They need us to be that calming voice, and they need guidance.”
Occupational medicine physician Robert Gordon Jr., MD, MSPH, has been on the phone at all hours of the day and night in the past two months to provide medical advice on protecting employees from COVID-19 at work. This has become especially critical for the meat processing facilities that MOHA works with, who, due to a combination of corporate decisions and Dr. Gordon’s advice, have implemented infrastructure to better protect their employees. Being on call like this doesn’t bother Dr. Gordon in the slightest. “A community of caring means stepping up when the community needs help and providing that help,” he says.
Sue and Dr. Gordon are incredibly proud of their team, especially the nurses and medical assistants who have put in long hours on-site outside of Springfield. “We are very proud of our staff who have operated out of their ‘norm,’ who have performed their duties and who have assisted our companies,” says Sue. “Without our staff, we wouldn’t be successful. It is a team, and we work together as a team.”