The Frontier community is proud to have students and alumni serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the next few weeks, we are committed to sharing their stories in order to provide insight, hope and encouragement. Thank you to all the health care workers who are risking their own well-being daily to serve our nation. To see more stories from the frontlines, go here.
When Jaime Westlund, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, Class 37 moved with her family from her home state of Idaho to Hawaii in August 2019, she did so with the intent to serve the community, staying true to the history and mission of FNU. Little did she know at that time how quickly her commitment to community would be tested.
“While I was attending Frontier Nursing University to become a nurse practitioner, I made an oath to always ‘answer the call’ within my community,” Westlund said. “Today, as I screened hundreds of patients to determine if they met the criteria to be tested for COVID-19, I felt a connection to that oath that I have never felt before.”
Since moving to Hawaii with her husband and four children (ages 11, 7, 6 and 3), Westlund has worked as a nurse practitioner in the general surgery department at Ali’i Health Center in Kailua Kona. Typically she spends half her week at the clinic seeing a variety of patients, including wound care, and the other half of her week at the hospital, rounding on general surgery patients and scrubbing in with the surgeons for operations.
With the spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic, however, her role has expanded. She created informational posters for the community and has been screening patients for the virus while taking the necessary steps to protect herself and her family as best she can. She is careful to use PPE while at work and removes her clothes and showers before going near her family.
“I took an oath to answer the call, and I have been doing that within my community,” Westlund said. “I encourage everyone to do their part whether big or small, whether you have taken an oath or not.”
Living on an island, supplies are always in demand and the pandemic has amplified the issue.
“We live on an island so it is truly rural health care at its finest,” Westlund said. “We do not have access to a lot of medical supplies or equipment and it takes a really long time to get things on the island. We have very few resources available. We have very few ICU beds and ventilators so it is crucial we contain the virus.”
Westlund said that telemedicine is being utilized as much as possible to limit the number of patients in the clinic and that all elective surgeries have been stopped.
“There are gaps and shortages everywhere,” Westlund said. “Unfortunately that is a typical day for us here.”
Just another day serving the community and fulfilling her oath to answer the call.