Staunton woman on the front lines of testing shares her up-close experience with COVID-19

Updated: Apr. 27, 2021 at 8:00 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - It’s been almost a year since a woman in the Shenandoah Valley shifted from her trained profession of phlebotomy to COVID-19 testing. In that time, she and her team have tested thousands of people across Virginia and up and down the East Coast.

Rebekah Saunders and her team at DYNAMIC DXS LLC have tested two kinds of people in this COVID-19 world. There are the believers. “Masks, gloves, you know wash hands, you know they were adamant to make sure to stay safe,” Saunders said.

And then there are non-believers. “Oh no, this doesn’t exist. it’s a hoax. I’m not wearing a mask. You’re not making me,” she said.

Then, COVID-19 came to their door. “Watching them change,” said Saunders. “Watching them say ‘oh no this is now affecting me.’ And wanting to do everything now to like protect themselves, protect their family and protect the community.”

Saunders says every single person has been affected by COVID-19, in her case directly.

“I have had it. I managed to make it through the rough tough part,” she said. Her parents got COVID at the beginning of December, then her son caught it and brought it home. “My father ended up in UVA for a couple days so that was a little scary for us.”

Being on the front lines of the pandemic, she’s experienced the heartache in a different way. “Some of our patients, especially in the nursing home, I’m gonna cry, sorry, that we adored that we worked with for years and watching them suffer, watching them pass. It took a toll on us,” said Saunders.

Saunders says there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but she is encouraging people to stay the course with social distancing, washing hands, and wearing a mask. “It’s still in our area. People are still getting sick. People are still testing positive,” she said. “And, get vaccinated. If you have the opportunity get vaccinated. It’s not a cure, but dagnabit it is a way to slow things down.”

Saunders loves making a difference with COVID-19 testing, but she is looking forward to the day where she can once again return to the business of phlebotomy.

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