Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

By Robert Summer

It was wonderful, even luxurious to start the year with a school full of students this calendar year. There have been many extra hours for our school nurse, office staff and administrators following the required contact tracing. Unfortunately, there have been amounts of time when students are out, but they come back, which is much better than everyone being exclusively remote. The community has rallied and we are working together with the district during this unique time. We all want students in school safely.

As an educator with a complicated medical history, it was interesting to be informed at our Central Peninsula Hospital’s emergency room in late August that my COVID test was positive. The reason for the ER visit was not COVID-related and at that time, my assessment apart from my need to go to the ER was that of an asymptomatic COVID patient.

In February and March my dear wife and I received both doses of the Moderna vaccine that was available in our community. It was our decision to be vaccinated as we had not contracted COVID up to that time, and to date, thankfully, I am the only one of the two of us who has tested positive.

Where I contracted COVID is not a concern for me; it could have been at any of the various places frequented — grocery stores, school, a sporting goods store, the post office. To me it does not matter, it is part of life in recent times.

As my condition deteriorated quickly, due to, as one doctor at Central Peninsula Hospital put it, “You are a high-risk fellow,” it was decided an infusion of antibodies be administered there in the ER.

The next almost three weeks found me as a patient in our home community Central Peninsula Hospital, including nine days in ICU.

All this took place a mere 5 miles from our home, not Anchorage, in our excellent community hospital that has saved my life on more than one occasion.

Several things became very clear to me from all the great care at CPH.

First was, though tired to the bone in most cases, the CNAs, RNs, lab techs, radiology techs, staff and doctors all were amazing in their professionalism and humanity.

Second, every care provider was very relieved I was vaccinated.

Another of the special aspects of our local hospital is that many of the employees are former students who were in class as eighth graders, or parents of students, or friends. The sense of community here on the peninsula has always been a strong positive to living here, but when the chips are down, and people rally for your recovery, it is especially unique. There are not many places like it in the world and we are lucky to live here.

KPBSD has been supportive and it is important to show appreciation for such a district, especially when around the country this does not seem to be the norm. The staff and administration at Kenai Middle School have once again shown their character for caring; a person could not ask to have a better place for their occupation.

Recently, a new staff member mentioned the move back to Kenai was because he missed the sense of community his family had found living here previously.

He recommended the book “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging,” by Sebastian Junger.

Junger describes various aspects of community and a sense of belonging in his book. A quote about the book says, “‘Tribe’ explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world.”

We have a great community here.

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place. The health care workers went above and beyond and I want them to know how much they are appreciated.

My perspective in this letter, as I hope comes out, is one of thankfulness for this community.

Robert Summer is a teacher at Kenai Middle School.

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