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June 16, 2020
Authentics: Cheryl Marvin & Heidi Sklizovic
Leading the way through innovation and example.
Nurses have always served a critically important role in caring for and keeping our community safe, but this spring, their profession was thrown into the spotlight as these men and women became the frontlines of fighting a global pandemic. With their passion to help people, they work in a profession where they float in and out of rooms as they see and tend to patients, often going unseen and underappreciated. The reality of COVID-19 and how it has so deeply affected our world has shown us all just how incredible these healthcare heroes are for the jobs that they do. Sisters Heidi Sklizovic and Cheryl Marvin, both nurses with Daybreak Adult Care Services, are just two of the thousands of healthcare professionals in our community whose caring nature and desire to serve others shined through even the darkest days of COVID-19.
“I knew I wanted to be a nurse at a young age,” said Heidi. “I grew up in a home of ‘helpers.’ My dad was the Chief of Police in our local town in Pennsylvania and my mom, among many other things, was a volunteer at a local abuse shelter for men and women. Caring for people is something I always remember my parents doing.” Likewise, Cheryl knew from early on that she wanted to follow in the same path as her sister.
“I knew I wanted to help others, possible in a nursing capacity, in the first grade,” said Cheryl. “On most days during lunch, I would sit with a classmate that was born with one leg shorter than the other. He would often cry in pain, so I encouraged him to prop his feet up on a chair, and I comforted him by reassuring him that he would ‘be ok.’ I listened to his frustration about being unable to run and play like the other children. I gained tremendous happiness when he no longer cried.”
Heidi served as an inspiration to her younger sister Cheryl. Cheryl would often visit Heidi at nursing school, and she aspired to follow in her older sister’s footsteps. They both attended and graduated from Sewickley Valley Hospital School of Nursing within one year of each other. Now, they work together at Daybreak Adult Care Services, a locally owned personal in-home healthcare provider, where Cheryl is the Senior Nurse Case Manager and Heidi is a Nurse Case Manager.
“The Aiken community has done a wonderful job of ‘bonding’ together to support our medical community by providing food, supplies, and prayer to name a few. COVID-19 has forced us all to slow down the pace of our very busy everyday lives.”
“I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that I have made a difference in our clients’ lives,” said Heidi. “I have been in my current position for 7 years, and have developed many, many friendships with our clients and their families. I consider it a privilege to be in people’s homes providing good care.”
As the pandemic spread throughout the country and to our community, Heidi and Cheryl worked hard to reassure their patients and to continue to provide exceptional care.
The pandemic became very serious to me in Aiken when my patients began to express fear and sadness due to COVID-19,” said Cheryl. “I was determined to try and protect them, educate them, and make them feel as safe as possible. The pandemic became very real to me when physicians and nurses that I regularly work with in this community began treating COVID-19 positive patients in our local hospital.”
Our community, usually bustling with activities and events in the springtime, screeched to a halt as businesses, schools, restaurants, parks, and museums temporarily shut their doors and we all stayed home with our families. While continuing to work with their patients, Heidi and Cheryl both found the slower pace refreshing, and a welcome break from the realities of the pandemic in their professional lives.
“The most significant thing that stands out to me from this time is that nobody should take their health for granted,” said Cheryl. “Unfortunately, no one group of persons is immune to this virus. The Aiken community has done a wonderful job of ‘bonding’ together to support our medical community by providing food, supplies, and prayer to name a few. COVID-19 has forced us all to slow down the pace of our very busy everyday lives. This has been a positive for me personally, as well as the majority of the patients that I care for each day.”
Heidi found additional positives throughout the pandemic in the ways that our community chose to step up and help out those in need. One of her favorite quotes is from Mr. Rogers, and is one that reminds us to always look for the helpers in scary or tough situations.
“Being a mom of three boys ages 21, 19, and 15, I have enjoyed having them all at home,” said Heidi. “We have become gardeners, chicken owners, and helpers. My oldest son, Alex, decided to 3D print hundreds of face shields which we sent to Dr. Zotovic in New York City, ARMC ICU doctors and nurses, the radiology department at ARMC, a pediatric pulmonologist in Savannah, and to my husband’s private practice in Maine. Friends seeing his efforts online started sending us supplies to help defer the cost of printing—it was a joy to see people coming together. Helping is contagious!”
We have seen the ways that our community has stepped up in amazing ways to show their appreciation for nurses, doctors, and everyone in the healthcare industry. From sending thank you cards to dropping off meals to printing face shields, each kind gesture has been truly appreciated by those who have received it. As our community and state open back up though, these healthcare workers implore you to still consider your health, the health of your neighbor, and the health of our community as a whole by continuing to follow CDC guidelines as a way of supporting the hard work that they do each day.
“The community can best support healthcare workers by practicing patience, staying home if you aren’t feeling well, continuing to social distance, wearing masks, and practicing good hand washing,” Cheryl said. “I am so very thankful to be a nurse in Aiken as we all continue to battle COVID-19. Be kind! We’re all in this together.”