Nominated by: Kathryn Massey
On April 2, 2020 I was admitted to the ICU at Baystate Wing Hospital with Covid-19. I was very sick, but stable until the early morning on April 6. I experienced what is called the “Cytokene Storm”. I went from stable to critical very quickly.
By the grace of God, Noelle Grace Efantis was the ICU nurse assigned to me during that shift. The doctor informed me that I would have to be intubated and life-flighted out to Baystate Springfield right away in order to save my life, but no guarantees.
I knew from everything that I had read about Covid-19 that 85% of intubated patients do NOT survive! Noelle explained to me everything that was about to occur to mentally prepare me. First, I would be sedated to relax me. Next, I would be given a paralytic medication so that I could not move my body while they inserted the breathing tube down my throat and into my lungs. Finally, I would be placed in a medicated coma so that my body could try to fight the virus. Each day after that, they would pull back on the coma medication to see if I could sustain a good O2 level on my own. If not, they would put me under again and try daily. Noelle wanted me to be prepared ahead of time as waking patients from a coma is very disorienting, frightening and sometimes traumatic to the patient if they aren’t aware ahead of time what is going on. She knew how frightened I was and held my hand and told me that she will be with me every step of the way.
Noelle knew that my daughter was an RN as well, as they had spoken on the phone to each other previously for updates, and that I was well aware of how dire my situation had become. The doctor quite possibly could be signing my death sentence, but there was no other choice. Or was there?
When the doctor came back into the room after calling my husband, Noelle mentioned that she had some knowledge about a treatment called “Proning” (lying on your belly for hours) that might be worth trying before they intubate me. Proning improves oxygenation and respiratory mechanics. The doctor consulted with several doctors at Baystate, including a Pulmonologist, and they agreed it was worth a try.
Little by little my numbers were changing in right direction. The proning was making a difference and was turning me around! It took 8 more days in the ICU before I was able to keep my O2 level at an acceptable rate on my own without the help of oxygen.
The hospital released me on April 14, which was my 36th Wedding Anniversary! They called a “Code Rocky” for me, which is where they play the theme song to Rocky for all Covid-19 patients that beat this horrific virus.
To me, the real SHEro in this story is Noelle Grace Efantis. If it weren’t for her intervention, I might well have been a Covid-19 statistic instead of a survivor. For this reason, I am so proud to nominate Noelle Grace Efantis for the Country Bank Community Hero Award.
Nominated by: Katie Grandmont
The owners of Demore’s Automotive have gone above and beyond with helping their community throughout this pandemic. They have collected, donated and personally delivered meals (even on Easter) and supplies to hospitals, senior centers, local people who are unable to leave their residence, essential workers and so many more.
Michelle and Jay have been providing /donating gift cards for free meals to people throughout the local community. I’d like to also mention that they haven’t forgotten about local high school seniors who are missing out on all of the valued traditions and significant life events most of us have had the honor of experiencing. They are also giving away MANY gift certificates to seniors for various restaurants and so much more. In viewing their Facebook page, you can clearly see their dedication to helping people is above and beyond. I can not think of any one who deserves this more.
Nominated by: Samantha Dougan
Paula Perrier is putting other’s before herself during this unprecedented time. She is currently in charge of the Emergency Childcare Services at the Tri-Community Childcare Center in Southbridge, MA. She has to show up every day, get her temp taken and make life easier for these children who aren’t in their normal daycare. These are children who’s parents are working on the front line and still need daycare. They’re all exposed to their parents at home who may be carrying COVID-19 from working in the public each day. They all could be carriers. They’re scared and don’t know these new teachers, and this new place that they have to go so their parents can work.
My mom, Paula Perrier, is there every day to greet these children, and teachers, and make sure that they have the best day possible considering the circumstances. Nothing about this routine. Every day brings new questions, fears and worry. Paula isn’t able to see her grandchildren, or most family because of the possibility that she could be carrying COVID-19. That’s tough.
We talk a lot about medical personnel being heroes, and there’s no doubt that they are, but we forget about a lot of other “essential” workers who are keeping our communities running. Without these essential childcare centers, a lot of our healthcare professionals and grocery store employees wouldn’t be able to cover the essentials we all require to get by. I wanted to nominate my mom as a community hero because I think she’s just that, a hero.
Nominated by: Donna Mead
Ben is my hero because he’s not only the most generous and caring husband, but because he is the most hard working individual I know. These last few months have been extremely trying and stressful for him. He manages the janitorial staff at a Hartford Hospital – one hit hard by COVID-19.
He’s overseeing the cleaning in patient rooms, public areas, and private offices throughout his entire campus. He’s driving 2+ hours a day – working over 12 hour days, managing 7 days a week, has even taken several days of clothes with him (in case he couldn’t come home) – all because he says “it’s for the patients”… they’re the reason he cares so much.
He and his staff are the unsung heroes … the ones on the front lines no one sees. The ones no one thinks about, but they are so vital and important to the cleanliness of the hospital. This is why he’s my hero.
Nominated by: Sheila Malie
I am nominating Alan Tracy for his tireless work during this pandemic to make sure that the troops that work and arrive at Westover ARB are taken care of.
He organized with volunteers (that have the ability to sew) to make masks for the troops at Westover ARB, coordinated the purchase of material, delivery of that material, and picks up mask ready to distribute.
He also continues to pick up donations from local business as well as working with the Girl Scouts to accept cookie donations and then makes sure the items and cookies get distributed to the troops through care packages.
Alan does these things and more without hesitation and is well-deserving of being recognized as a Community Hero.
Alan has chosen to receive a $250 gift certificate (in $25 increments) to Big Y World Class Market so that he can distribute them to the families of our troops, along with a $250 donation made in his name to Pioneer Valley USO.
Nominated by: Daniela Labodycz
I am writing to acknowledge and nominate my co-workers who are now known as the “last responders” — our funeral directors and staff.
Their compassion and heroism are needed every day. While I am able to work from home as the office manager, they have the task of putting themselves at risk daily working with families who are sick and/or lost a loved one to COVID-19. The care and compassion needed in these times are unprecedented. Our directors on the front line and our staff who assist families to take their loved ones into their care are at risk every day. They are working diligently with families to explain the limitations of only 10 people at a funeral and coming up with creative ways to bring others to the services virtually through Facebook and Webcasting.
Handling grief and the changes in funeral services/gatherings have created turmoil that we have never experienced before. As essential workers, they then have the task of going home and helping their children with schooling on top of already long days. The staff at Beers & Story of Palmer are consummate professionals, caring and unbelievably strong individuals who give so much of themselves to their communities every single day. They are absolute heroes!!!
The funeral home will be receiving a $250 gift certificate to Steaming Tender Restaurant in Palmer, MA for the office staff to enjoy lunch together, along with a $100 donation made in their name to each of the following food pantries:
Each food pantry donation will be generously matched by Beers & Story Funeral Home of Palmer.