When the coronavirus pandemic is finally over, Molly Robertson-Salaam will remember the patients she saw.
“It's how appreciative they were,” she said. “They would say, 'thank you. You don't know how much this means.' People saw us as heroes, and we didn't see us that way.”
Robertson-Salaam is executive director of primary care and patient access at Lutheran Health Physicians, overseeing primary care medical practices. She hasn't contracted the coronavirus and has received the vaccine.
“I wanted the very, very front-line people to be first in line,” she said.
In addition to patient safety, Robertson-Salaam, 40, is concerned, she said, about how the pandemic has affected emotions.
“How are people handling being isolated?” she asked. “I think there are a lot of underlying concerns.”
She's proud of how her co-workers have handled extremely stressful working environments.
“There were things changing day to day, sometimes hour to hour,” she said. “The days were very focused and they were longer.”
Robertson-Salaam has been at Lutheran Health Network for 15 years and has worked in health care for 25 years. At age 15, she started as an activities assistant at Lutheran Homes, a long-term care facility.
After nursing school, she stayed in long-term care working with people with dementia. She then moved to St. Joseph Hospital downtown and worked as a nurse in the Geropsychiatric unit for eight years. The unit treats mental health and psychiatric disorders in adults ages 18 years old and older.
She also managed several specialty offices including pulmonary, general surgery, cardiology, neurology, GI and urology at St. Joe before becoming operations manager at Lutheran Medical Group overseeing primary care.
“I went for it and I never looked back,” she said of her health-care career. “I knew that I wanted to help people.”
Since the pandemic, she has learned to value every day and not take anything for granted.
She values her family, including her 15-year-old son, Isaiah. “I am who I am today ... because of him,” she said.
She also cherishes her co-workers.
“I think I'll value those relationships even more,” she said. “I'm very proud of the way Lutheran Health Network has handled this pandemic.”