The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt throughout Michigan, including in Kalamazoo, home to schools, universities and hospitals. COVID-19 has affected the way those services operate, and for Steven Geyer, a security officer at Kalamazoo’s Bronson Methodist Hospital, it has even affected their hours.
“I have worked more than I’ve ever worked in the past,” said Geyer, who has worked at Bronson the last six years. “We have had to deal with probably more angry family visitors and people seeking service than ever before because of COVID.”
Kalamazoo County’s rate of COVID-19 exchange is considered high, with an average rate of 869.6 cases weekly per 100 thousand. For those working with the affected in such close proximity, new protocols are implemented. “It’s required to be vaccinated,” said Geyer “although you can get a religious exemption or an exemption for medical reasons.” The vaccination mandate is not the only thing Bronson Methodist Hospital has faced in the battle against COVID-19. Geyer said when the pandemic initially hit parts of the hospital were closed and have not fully reopened.
Although it has been two years since COVID-19 hit stateside, there are still plenty of lingering effects in Kalamazoo. While the efforts to prevent the spread are still implemented, we can only hope for the best. Says Geyer, “I think people did the best they could, and are still doing the best they can, but it’s still very challenging.”
Spartan Newsroom reporter Emile Rizk spoke with Steven Geyer about how COVID-19 is impacting his job at Bronson Methodist Hospital.
Steven Geyer: My name is Steven Geyer, last name G-E-Y-E-R. I am semi retired but I work at Bronson Methodist Hospital as a security officer … part time.
Emile Rizk: Awesome, so obviously we are in the midst of a pandemic. How has that impacted your job, I know you said partially retired but still it probably has had some effects?
SG: Sure, well this past year I probably — I have worked more than I’ve ever worked in the past. I’ve been there for six years. We have had to deal with probably more angry family visitors and people seeking service than ever before because of COVID.
ER: Has the hospital implemented any new protocols in place because of COVID?
SG: Sure, the first year probably in the spring we locked down a large portion of our campus so you could only access through a certain entrances where we would screen out people, check where they were going and make sure they had a mask … things like that to make sure they didn’t have COVID. So access to the building was very limited initially and to some degree it still is.
ER: So with COVID, there’s probably been a lot of decisions being made – I know you said you were partially retired — has COVID impacted your decision in that regard at all?
SG: In my decision to what I didn’t catch the question?
ER: Just in general, like have you had to make any important decisions, like, due to Covid-19 and the impact it’s had?
SG: Sure, sure. I know initially my son wanted me to retire and leave Bronson, he didn’t like the idea of me working around people that had COVID coming in to seek services. So, that was actually very significant. Working more was also part of it, but you know that came with the turf, although we were probably — I was under the impression, I think we all were- that this was gonna disappear a little quicker than it has, the COVID.
ER: Awesome, now I know that you have been a resident in your community for quite some time — I talked very briefly with the person who put me in contact with you. How has your community changed with the impact of COVID-19?
SG: Wow, that’s a good question. You know I was thinking about this today. I know initially when we started shutting all the nonessential stuff down, and started shutting all that stuff down, it was very strange driving because there didn’t seem to be many cars on the road at all. I think people did the best they could, and are still doing the best they can, but it’s still very challenging. People are confused sometimes about the masks, “Why do I have to still wear them?” and the vaccinations. You asked what hospital requirements, it’s required to be vaccinated, although you can get a religious exemption or an exemption for medical reasons at Bronson for not getting the vaccination. People are just really confused, I think, in general.
ER: How did that make you- or how did you feel I guess- when this Pandemic first initially hit? We didn’t know a lot about it, how did you feel still continuing to go to work?
SG: Sure. I don’t know. It’s part of what I have to do, it’s part of my job. I —I don’t know that we knew the — how bad it really was or still is, or how not bad it is. I trusted the government that they would do — were giving us good information. I don’t that if in hindsight that was always true. I guess it was just my job, so I just needed to do my job.