Michael Snider, Urgent Care MA, has held many different roles at UHS (and beyond) since March of 2020. In addition to working per-diem at Tang, Michael also works as an EMT at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) catching students up on their routine vaccinations and supporting the nursing staff. He’s also part of CCSF’s Return to Campus workgroup where he reviews departmental procedures to ensure protocols are being followed. Michael also makes time to volunteer at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank (as needs have greatly increased) and assist the city of San Francisco with as-needed volunteer contact tracing.
In his COVID Staff Highlight, Michael shares his thoughts on dealing with change, the unique impact COVID has had on college campuses and the importance of supporting mental health, how the pandemic has inspired him to take on some healthier habits, and much more.
On shifting roles, dealing with change, and supporting others:
I was first deployed to the parking lot where I was swabbing students, then I was moved to phlebotomy. Now I’m at RSF providing medical support and instruction. I know some MAs and RNs have been getting tired of being outdoors, so I’ve asked to be in certain areas where I can be of more support. On weekends in Urgent Care I’m working in the COVID isolation area and assisting the doctor there. In general, I also do a lot of support for weekend staff like schedule blocking. It’s all been quite a change.
Most of us, as humans, aren’t great with change. Every week is something different — maybe a different work area or a change in our swabbing routine. Especially as a per diem, you come back and a lot may have changed in a week so you have to learn the whole routine all over again, which can be exhausting. Also, you never know where you’re going to be at work. Even though the schedule says one thing, it might have already changed because someone’s sick or they need more help. When you get home at night you’re a lot more tired because of the change to your normal routine. It’s definitely been a big adjustment.
A lot of front line workers have families that they’re worried about. I actually don’t have family so I feel like I can be out here more and not be as concerned. I take precautions of course but I don’t need to worry about hurting a family member when I go home. It’s important for me to be here when I can, as much as I can. I’m working 7 days a week now between my two jobs so other people can take a breather. It makes me feel better that I’m able to do that.
On feeling safe and proud to work at UHS:
I know a lot of front line workers have been concerned or scared about PPE. I have to say that out of all the places I’ve been working, I’m more confident when I come to UHS than anywhere else. I feel like we’ve gone above and beyond to support staff. People are clinically sound here when they make decisions, and because of that I’ve never felt safer. I’ve been doing weekly testing anyway because I want to be part of the studies, but I feel really confident. I’m very proud to tell people the things we’re doing at Tang. We haven’t had a healthcare worker test positive, and I think that’s a huge win for UHS.
On the importance of recognizing the unique impact COVID has had on college campuses:
It’s interesting because some people think that working in college health is different from working at a hospital because students are younger and may not be as affected by COVID. Not only are students just as affected by this, but we’re dealing with more than just COVID because students have gone through huge changes. It’s some people’s first semester away from home. They’re away from their families and can’t go visit because they don’t want to jeopardize anyone’s health. They’re just completely alone. How do you make friends in this environment? Everything is harder and takes more effort. I really feel for the students here. We have an obligation to support their mental health, and it’s important to stay in a good frame of mind for them.
I like to think that I’m a stable presence for students. I get people coming up to me at RSF saying, “Hey Micahel! How’s it going? It’s good to have you back!” That means a lot to me. I feel like I’m here to support students through this time because we’re all human and we all need support right now. In Urgent Care we don’t normally get to see the same people that often. Working at RSF has been an eye-opener to see the same students. I feel like having the same people in the same area is supporting the students because they have that ongoing interaction.
On guiding a student to seek support from the Disabled Students’ Program (DSP) through weekly interactions at the RSF surveillance site:
One student was telling me how he was having a problem with a professor because he was getting up a lot during Zoom class. I found out that he was getting up to use the bathroom. I suggested he might have a DSP need and that he tell his professor not to be so hard on him. Now, every week he comes to tell me that things are going better with his professor since he went to DSP and got a letter stating that he was hyper and anxious and having to get up a lot. It made me happy to know that I could be of help.
On taking on some new and healthier habits:
Since the pandemic started I’ve been running twice a day — three miles in the morning and two miles at night. I’m getting a better night’s sleep than I ever have and I’m making sure that I eat right. I’ve lost 20lbs. I went to the doctor and my blood sugar and A1C are lowered. I think this is because of my health changes.
On looking forward post-pandemic:
I’m really looking forward to taking these masks off so we can see each other’s faces and smiles. I find that not only do I not recognize people as well, but I’m really good at sensing people with depression issues and masks make that harder. Sometimes we’ll all be laughing but we can’t see it, and it’s a huge issue for us. The biggest thing I want is for these masks to come off and see people’s smiles again.