Pandemic perseverance at Sanford

Editor’s Note: In late August 1961, the Tracy Municipal Hospital was added to the city’s landscape. Today, Sanford Tracy is preparing to honor the hospital’s history by highlighting the present as its 60th anniversary nears. In conjunction with Sanford Tracy, the Tracy Area Headlight Herald this week continues a four-part series that focuses on the progress the medical center has made over the last decades, as well as the dedicated work its employees have done during the pandemic.

This week: Dealing with a pandemic

2020 was anything but business as usual at Tracy’s hospital

By Per Peterson

Whether operating as Tracy Municipal Hospital or Sanford Tracy, no one associated with the clinic since its inception in 1961 had ever been tested personally and professionally as much as they were last year.

As a global pandemic gripped the nation early in 2020, hospitals around the country, and the world, had to react to an enemy not seen since the flu pandemic of 1918, known commonly as the Spanish Flu. Sanford Tracy was one of those hospitals.

“I think for the first six to seven months, you’re working on an adrenaline flow,” said Stacy Barstad, CEO of Sanford Tracy, which is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the hospital next month. “You don’t know what’s coming — there was so many unknowns. We were just trying to prepare the best we could, get information out.”

One of the biggest challenges of working through a new pandemic, in 2020, Barstad said, was breaking down all the information that was thrown at everyone last March, information that literally changed by the day.

“The staff was really good about understanding that things changed every day,” she said. “The biggest thing was dealing with that and getting the tools the staff needed to take care of the patients — the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), screening patients, making sure everyone was safe.”

Barstad said everyone at Sanford was working under a cloud of both uncertainty and fear when COVID-19 hit southwest Minnesota. With more than 120 employees, one of Barstad’s tasks was to keep them safe, which, in turn, helped keep the patients safe. Having no idea what the pandemic entailed early on, that was no small task.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.