Interview with Lori Welch, 01/06/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐GL: This is Grace Lim interviewing Lori Welch on Thursday, January 6, 2022. For Campus COVID stories. Campus COVID Stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Before we get started, could you please state your name and spell it for us?

LW: My name is Lori L-O-R-I Welch, W-E-L-C-H.

GL: Now for the purposes of getting a good audio recording, please tell us again who you are and what your title is here at UW Oshkosh.

LW: My name is Lori Welch, and I am the EHS manager. EHS stands for environmental health and safety.

GL: Before we dive into your campus COVID story we'd like to get to know you a little better. You know, tell us a little bit about where you grew up.

LW: I grew up in two small towns in Wisconsin until I was 10 years old. I lived 00:01:00in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. And then our family moved and we moved to New Holstein, Wisconsin. I graduated from high school in New Holstein.

GL: And where did you earn your degree or degrees?

LW: I got my BSW here at UW Oshkosh.

GL: And when was that?

LW: I graduated in December of 1982.

GL: And how did you come to work here at UWO,

LW: I was looking for a job. I had worked at my previous employer for 21 years and had taken a new position. And that position did not work out with that employer. So I was looking for a job. And I found out about this opening and it was a brand new position.

GL: And when did you start working here?

LW: September of 2017.


GL: And what position was that?

LW: It was called EHS coordinator.

GL: And tell me about your position prior to COVID. What were your duties, who are you in charge of? And yeah.

LW: Okay. I was part of a very small department, and I was the occupational health and safety specialist. So as well as overall safety on campus as far as the environment. I was in charge of employee safety. So following OSHA regulations, ensuring that the training of employees occurred, I had to develop relationships with especially facilities people but virtually almost everyone on 00:03:00campus. I write policy, I write procedures. I do audits, I do employee training. I am a co chair of our EHS committee here on campus. I work as part of the Risk and Safety Department is part of the police department. So I've worked with the PD on issues pertaining to risk.

GL: Give me an example of risk.

LW: Risk on our campus can come in many forms. So sometimes, procedures and policies can present a risk to the campus. People can present a risk to the campus, the physical environment can present a risk to campus. So our campus or 00:04:00excuse me, our department is really a support department like human resources, facilities, IT. so we touch virtually every other department on our campus in some way.

GL: Give me some concrete examples of a risk say environmental.

LW: Oh, so one of the challenges I've been dealing with in the four and a half years I've worked here is the condition of our sidewalks on our campus. There are a number of sidewalks that are in poor repair and need to be fixed. We have students and employees who trip and fall and then of course there is this time of the year the winter when we are dealing with snowing and icy snowy and icy conditions. So these are other environmental risk factors.

GL: Okay. Okay. And then are you responsible for other people in your department,

LW: I do not supervise anyone.


GL: Okay. All right. So let's move to the early days of COVID. Do you remember the first time you heard about this virus? This COVID-19?

LW: Yes, it was February, I think. And my supervisor at the time, Kim Langolf, had been asked to go to meet at the police department with the emergency manager at that time Lieutenant Trent Martin. To take minutes at a meeting, talking about COVID. So that that's the first thing I remember is she was leaving the office and just said to me, Lori, I've got to run over to the PD, they want me to take some notes.

GL: And when did you get more aware of this virus?

LW: Well, she, you know, came back from the meeting and talked about it and asked me to do some research. So I went to typical sources that I go to. Perhaps 00:06:00I have been hearing some things on the news, I probably did. But, you know, after that meeting, you know, she talked about the fact that we better watch out, because it will get here.

GL: And at what point, did you think that this is something that we really need to pay attention to?

LW: I mean, probably every single day after that initial meeting that Kim told me about, because it just kept coming, you know, there's a number of organizations that I belong to that send the communications so the theme of communications from many sources was starting to be all the same. And it was COVID.

GL: And you've been in the, the Health and Safety and Risk field? What is going 00:07:00through your mind?

LW: Well, it was very, I was worried that I wouldn't know enough of the health specifics, you know, medical kinds of things, I felt like, you know, an industrial hygienist would have been able to know, would have more information than I would have had, I am a generalist, which is good in some ways, and not good in others. But I was I was getting a little nervous about that. And then wondering how it would play out on the campus, you know, I didn't know what would be happening.

GL: So moving on to the, you know, we got through February, and then March is 00:08:00coming on. And we have spring break, I think that the third week of spring break or something like that, and then you know, there are rumblings of the virus in parts of the country, and it's, you know, it's coming closer. You know, what were your feelings at the time when, say, the beginning of March?

LW: Well, at that point, you know, there was uh there was discussion about, you know, if we had to close down, send students home. So those kinds of, you know, I was being asked by various people to check on certain things, you know, can we do this? How would we do that? Those kinds of things. So, I was starting to gear up, I was doing a lot of research, you know, on virtually anything and everything I could get my hands on talking with my peers at other campuses.

GL: What are they saying?


LW: But well, we all we all, you know, had similar fears of what, you know, how will this play out what is going to happen? Will we be able to manage this, and we have a variety of backgrounds, those of us in this position at all the different campuses. But, you know, initially we were all just going, okay, something's going to happen, we better be ready. I hope people will listen to us. That was one thing we talked about, will people listen to us?

GL: So the risks that you've had dealt with before how many how different was this?

LW: It was very different because it affected everybody. You know, certain other risks affect a particular population or a particular department or A particular physical area or a particular project or routine, but the this was affecting everybody.


GL: Okay, so when the word came down from the administration that we are sending our students home, and studying the non essential staff home, what, what was going on in your department?

LW: Well, our department was part of the EOC. So at least Kim and I were initially, and it was later on. And I can't remember how long maybe a couple of months when Michelle Bogden-Muetzel then got involved. So, as you've probably heard, there were three stages of three different committees or teams. The 00:11:00initial and then there was a call the implementation team, which we worked a lot during the summer of 2020, to prepare for fall and bringing students back. And then the EOC, which continues to operate

GL: Is the implementing implementation team. That's the same as a recovery taskforce?

LW: No. The recovery task force, set the goals for the implementation team, so in all of our divisions, disciplines, then we got our assignments through the task force, and the implementation team then had to figure out how to make it happen.

GL: Got it? Got it. So were you working from home? At that time? Did you go home?

LW: Yeah. Right. And then I came back on May 1, because I was I'm an essential. 00:12:00I had to physically be here and do things.

GL: How did you feel about that? You know, this is a virus, we'd still at that time, we did not have a vaccine yet, and that others are being able to stay at home and shelter safely at home. What were your thoughts about that?

LW: Well, I wanted to be here, because there are so many things I had to physically do. I mean, I ended up doing a lot of physical work, that normally I wouldn't do, because there wasn't anyone here to do it. So I assisted custodial services and facilities in a lot of areas. Plus, we realize that employees had to, certain employees, had to wear an N95 respirator. And there is a medical 00:13:00evaluation and SB done before that, and there's a FIT test that has to be done. I do the FIT tests on our campus. So I had to be here to do the training and education, coordinate with occupational health services at Aurora for the medical evals and then do all the FIT test. So I was used to doing, you know, maybe 10 employees a year and I probably did between 80 and 100 employees in 2020.

GL: Okay, so you when we were sent home in the March of 2020. So you stayed home and worked until?

LW: It was the first Monday of May. I don't remember the day, but it was the first Monday of May.

GL: What I mean, were you a little Were you worried about coming back to campus,

LW: I really wasn't because I knew that essentially, I would be alone in our office, I worked in Dempsey at the time, and I was alone 90% of the time. And 00:14:00then when I had to physically do things with people, you know, again, this is fresh in the beg. So, you know, everyone was extremely conscientious about masking and distancing. And I washed my hands a lot and use hand sanitizer a lot. So I felt I was taking all the precautions I could take at that time.

GL: I had no idea. That's I mean, I gotta say, my husband and I, we were, he's instructor here. He's a professor in the math department. We were at home, you know, working on our classes. And you know, we were scared.

LW: It was like a ghost town here. It was very strange. That whole that you know when I came back in May until the time classes started in September, that whole 00:15:00summer in Dempsey, there maybe were two or three of us in the building at the same time. I was there every day, but occasionally some other people, I'd see someone I'd go "oh, hi!" Yes.

GL: So you're, you're, you're a member of the EOC, and then also the implementation team. I mean, tell me what were your specific roles? You said that you were doing policy or you're okay.

LW: Right. So I also was on the state, or the excuse me, the UW system plan ahead team. That was, it was too many meetings, too many meetings and committees. And I had actual work to be done so that when I think about challenges, that was one challenge, I would get out of one meeting or committee 00:16:00and I had my things to do. And oh, in 10 minutes, I have to go meet with, you know, all virtual obviously. So that was a challenge and a frustration I actually had work to do. And I'm sorry, I forgot your question.

GL: No, I was wondering your, your roles in those?

LW: Oh yes. I'm sorry. So you know, to be an occupational health expert was what I was looked at, looked for, are what I was expected to do. So I had I worked closely with facilities, because we were making determinations on hand sanitizers, signage, distancing, room capacities, door, changing out air dryers for hands in restrooms, to paper towel. And then it was do we have enough 00:17:00wastebaskets to gather all of this paper towel that we normally hadn't had? So just many logistical things. Then the whole PPE thing. How many masks do we need? How many 95 respirators do we need? And then of course, everyone in the whole country is looking for the same thing. So there's that there's panic occurring. I did not do any ordering. But I told people what they needed to order. I had to I did the titan return bags, I determined what needed to be in them, and got those things ordered and packaged and distributed. I don't want to forget to mention Greg Potratz, in my interview with you because he helped me 00:18:00immensely during the summer of 2020. Greg is the lab manager in the chemistry department. He has a role in the Risk and Safety Department. It's a very small part of his small part of his job. But he is our campus Chemical Hygiene officer and our hazardous waste coordinator. So part of his salary is paid through the Risk and Safety Department. He came back to campus not to serve as the lab manager in the chemistry department, because no one was here. But he was here and he helped me. So he was very he did does purchasing so he was purchasing things for me. He was physically going around and auditing things and counting things for me. So the chemistry department was very generous in allowing him to 00:19:00be here and helping me and I just want to mention him because he helped me a lot.

GL: I wanna go back before I forget, you said that you were helping facilities with the cleaning. I mean, when was this?

LW: This was all, you know, in the early stages. So, you know, at the planning team and the implementation team, Frank Mazanka, who is the supervisor of custodial, so he was on all of those kinds of things. And as we made decisions on what we need to do for health, then I had to develop standards of okay, here's what custodial needs to do. So I had to work with him on how are we going to get this done. Is this possible? What other equipment do we need? Do we need to buy Some other kinds of disinfectants and the ones we normally use.


GL: You're not, I'm not.

LW: So I wasn't actually cleaning. But I went with him to determine the places where you see hand sanitizers and hand sanitizer refills. So those are the kinds of the things he and I did together.

GL: Were you given a larger budget to do something like this? Or I mean, where was the money coming from to buy the extra PPE? Sanitizers?


It all was coming from the, from the state, we were getting all that emergency COVID money.

GL: Okay. So you talked about, you know, the challenges we have the other challenges that you encountered during the early days,

LW: Right. I narrowed my challenges to three. Number one was that there were just too many things to do. Too many things to do. As I'd mentioned earlier, the 00:21:00number of meetings and committees were was unbelievable. So again, I couldn't do my things that I had to do. I did, obviously, but it was a lot. And the other my third biggest challenge was the fact that there were conflicting views and, and so many needs from so many different customers. I have always looked at my job, I've been a social worker, I've been a human resource manager. So I've always been a customer service person, right. And so I have students, you know, that was the main worry as our customers, and employees, and I have always employees, 00:22:00are employees whether it's a student employee, or a faculty, or an administrative. Okay, to me and employees and employee. But I learned when I started working here, that there are employees, and then there are faculty, and there staff and there faculty. And I had to learn, that's just how universities are. So trying to do what was necessary to open our campus and to keep people safe. It was challenged, made more challenging by the fact that my customers did not always have homogenous ideas and goals and needs.

GL: I think you're being very diplomatic here. Can you just give me some specific examples?

LW: Well, I never had to deal with parents directly. There were others who did 00:23:00that, and I consider them saints. But things would eventually trickle to me about, you know, concerns of parents, with their students going to eat and having a roommate in the dorm, and can they have, you know, individual rooms, but still pay the other party, you know, those kinds of things that I didn't have to deal with that, but those things happen. The disinfecting procedures, if you recall, Grace, there were four main SOPs, standard operating procedures, that were established by the EEOC. And then as we moved along, in the process of coming back to school, then departments were asked to put together standing operating procedures about how they will be doing things differently in their 00:24:00operations. So the, the forming SOPs, one pertain to cleaning and disinfecting procedures of custodial services, and then of individuals in their individual workspaces. Then there was personal protective equipment. There was hygiene, health and hygiene, and then distancing and capacity. So those were the big four. I wrote two of them and my coworker, Michelle Bogden-Muetzel wrote the other two. So those were the standards that everyone had to follow at the minimum. And then if in the theater or the Dining Services, or athletics, they needed to take even more precautions, they could do that. So that was a big responsibility. And then of course, I got phone calls and emails. Well, what does this mean? And can we do this? Do we have to do that? So, again.


GL: What kind of pushback were you getting from faculty?

LW: I, I guess I was if I had to wrap it all up in, you know, looking back from March of 2020, until December of last year, an expectation of extra protection and guarantees of extra protection, thinking that we could make students do certain things so the faculty felt safe in their classroom. Those kinds of requests were not coming from other employees. Well, I shouldn't say that the Counseling Center was also quite demanding.

GL: The how hard was it to adhere to the CDC guidelines on, you know, in the 00:26:00beginning about the social distancing? I mean, I think it was supposed to be like six feet in the classroom. But I think in some classrooms, it was just physically impossible to put the number of students in there, and then the, you know, with their instructor and have that six feet. So how did you work with that?

LW: Oh, my gosh, there was, we had so many, probably hours of discussion in EOC about that. And again, trying to use the science that we had, and still try to have classes and keep people as safe as we could. I mean, it was mind boggling. So JoAnn Rife, and I think mainly two of her employees in the planning 00:27:00department, literally had to go through every single room that we use. They got the class scheduling information from the registrar, I'm not sure what office, and they unbelievably had to do that. And then facilities had to cover the chairs, and then signs remade for capacity. I worked with UMC a lot during this time on signage. So any sign that you saw, in all the buildings was something that came from my office working with UMC. I am sick of doing signs.

GL: Given all that, I mean, are there anything that you felt were positives? You know, things that you did in your department did that were actually something 00:28:00that you've been, you're proud of?

LW: Well, I'm proud of the fact that we did get students back here in the fall of 2020. And we did a pretty darn good job of, I mean, we kept them here. They said, we didn't have to close down again, that was our main goal not to close down again. So when I look at the short amount of time, that we had to pull that off the, the limited resources, and by that I mean, that's financially of course, but personnel wise. So the expectation was that we have all of our buildings physically prepared to have people come back with hand sanitizer, and towel dispensers, and signage, and chair coverings, and plexiglass. But we 00:29:00didn't have anyone here because they were all on furlough. So we didn't have anyone actually here to do it. And then when they finally came back, they had about three weeks to do it. So I'm very proud about that. Well, you know, as I looked at the questions people didn't really surprise me that much. I don't just mean UW Oshkosh, I mean, worldwide in people who I think are good people and want to do a good job and think of others totally behave that way. Very much so. And people who are more selfish and self centered and choose to remain 00:30:00uninformed or are divisive, they behaved just that way through all of it too. In my opinion, obviously.

GL: How has your job, has it changed to, obviously, you adapted. How has it changed during this time?

LW: Well, UW system has a number of requirements in every discipline. So in my discipline, we were, we did not have to meet our annual training requirements of employees, we did not have to do our annual evacuation drill or tornado drill. Because they realized that we were all extremely busy trying to get our doors open again. So I would say since last summer, summer of 2021, I was starting to 00:31:00get back into doing more of why my job and why I was hired. So lots of catch up, I'm trying to get people who I was working with on certain projects invested again in carrying the project out. So I'm a little bit disappointed that I'm not further along on certain projects for our campus. But that's just how it is. And I will get there eventually.

GL: The you know, so we're talking summer of 2020, you were working on the policy, a lot of the policies, trying to get us back. Fall of 2020, the students 00:32:00came back. Talk me through what happened to you, you know, what happened to your job during that fall of 2020.

LW: So EOC was meeting every single day, because we were looking at the numbers, you know, positive cases. You know, how many were going to quarantine, how many were isolated, you know, the whole testing center setup, and all of those things were just very, very time consuming. And the expectation was that, you know, every day as EOC met, we would go through our data, and then try to figure out how to respond to it each day. Peggy Breister are in UMC is a saint as far as I'm concerned having to try to develop these communications that people seemingly don't read. And so it was extremely busy and, and very tense, you 00:33:00know, each day, we were waiting for these numbers and thinking, Okay, what do we have to do? Is this working? Well, okay. You know, I'd hear from, you know, from custodial, we can't do that in this building, it's not working or, you know, it, it was very, you know, mentally I was, I'm not going to get anything really done this semester, I'm just going to be responding, I'm going to be putting out fires, you know, I just had to accept that I had to just say, I'm just going to be running around.

GL: And when you say putting out fires, what, what, what fires are you talking about here?

LW: Well, it you know, if numbers changed a lot, you know, if there were a lot of people testing positive, and then you know, we needed some more supplies 00:34:00somewhere or other, you know, employee group would say, well, we want N95 we want to wear N95 respirators because we don't think we're being protected enough by masks. People who were saying they didn't get their, you know, they didn't have enough signs, and could they make up their own. So I mean, it just not any rocket science kinds of things, but it was always something you know, people that were just unrealistic, I think in their expectations of coming back to work, and how safe they would be. And it was hard for me to understand some of that fear, because I've been here the whole time.

GL: What was your what was your stress level like? Have you, you were here the 00:35:00whole time. And then you're dealing with all these people probably emailing, you calling you, whatever.

LW: Well, I mean, I was I was stressed, no doubt, I was stressed and busy. I just kept thinking of people, you know, like my supervisor, Kim and the chief, Peggy, you know, people who were at a higher level than me and having to answer to higher level people than I did, you know? So I would, you know, try to put that perspective on a coin, when I would think of "Oh, my gosh, if one more person asked me one more thing", and you know, every once and a while, I just would have to think of them and go, "Okay, well, they have bigger wheels, asking them bigger things." Yeah, it was very stressful.

GL: What? What do you, when somebody asked you, how can I be safe? I don't feel 00:36:00safe here. Why? What do you say to them? What did you say to them?

LW: Well, you know, I would talk about, here's what we have in place, do you have all of that? And that was really all I could say. I mean, everyone handled it differently. Some people, as you know, I mean, some people didn't do anything, and didn't care and thought it was not real. And other people tried to live in a bubble. I mean, everyone is different, you know, everyone's health is different. Everyone's thoughts and values and politics, it's all different. I could only tell them, you know, here's what we have, we're confident that this will keep you safe. And the other thing was, I didn't. Sometimes I got the impression that, you know, if employees got COVID, that they were ready to point 00:37:00the finger at the employer. And I had a very, and still to this day, I had a real hard time believing, Oh, really. So you don't go to the gas station in the grocery store, you're not exposed to any people, except here at work. And actually, the state workers compensation regulations changed a little bit throughout. I handle workers comp on our campus too so there were some changes in that legislation. That's a big, that's a big deal.

GL: What kind of changes?

LW: Basically, that we were all instructed by UW system about those kinds of changes. So, you know, what we had to do as the work comp coordinator for the campus, if someone came with that allegation, we were, you know, taught about, okay, here's what you need to get from them. And it was not, it was it that that 00:38:00didn't really bother me that much. I was pretty confident that the way the way the change was laid out that it would be easy to manage.

GL: We're talking about people who are claiming that they got sick because they came to work here.

LW: Right. Right.

GL: And then the changes were that they can't really claim that because they

LW: There's no way to prove that, you know, and unless they were at home alone, all of the time. And actually, I didn't get any claims. I was kind of expecting to get some but I didn't. But the workers comp Review Board, which makes the changes in the in the regulation, the workers comp regulation for the state. They have identified groups of essential employees, who if they do get COVID, 00:39:00that their likelihood is that it did come from work. So like people who are healthcare providers, EMTs, you know, there's a group of those people.

GL: Sure. So you were working pretty much the whole time during the time of COVID here on campus. And this is before the vaccines came into play.

LW: right.

GL: Were you worried about bringing it to home? Or I mean, were you at all worried about that?

LW: Well, again, it's so my daughter had come home from college, she was at UW lacrosse. So that whole you know, she finished her spring semester at home online, which she hated. And then she was home all summer. And then she went back to classes in fall of 2020. So she was, she was also working with a very 00:40:00small group of people at Olive Garden, in the to-go when and this was before restaurants opened and all that. So I mean, she, she was with a small group of people as well. We, I mean, we just, we just did everything we knew we were supposed to do I, I really did not have a lot of fear, because I felt I was doing everything I was supposed to do. And the rest would be out of my hands.

GL: Doing this project, I have learned that a lot of work was doing done behind the scenes to get the campus back in some form. And what would you like to tell people about the work of the team, you know, the teams that you worked on, about this, this type of work that you've done? It's amazing.


LW: So I mean, overall, I just really, really impressed with what we all did. And the commitment of people on the EOC. Somehow, magically, the chief picked the right, people. We all had different areas of expertise and knowledge. And, you know, we were honest with each other. And I wish again, and this, I think, is just a university culture kind of thing, that the people who are the experts 00:42:00should be allowed to be the experts, and they should be listened to. And, but that wasn't always happening. So

GL: The chief told me that at some point, in all the meetings that you've had with the EOC, that everyone had a breakdown of some sort, and then you both ended each other up. What was what was that like in that, in that in that room where that was the virtual room, that what was it like working with this group of people?

LW: I, I'm, I'm honored and thankful that I got to be part of it. I mean, it just about killed me, but I'm just very honored and grateful. Because there's, you know, a number of people on the EOC, who I really didn't work with much 00:43:00beforehand, and I probably won't, again, if this ever ends. But I, you know, became very appreciative of the work that they do on a regular basis. And again, you know, everyone thinks their job is the hardest. So until you work with other people as closely as we did. But I mean, everyone, just we use humor a lot, you know, and we got to know each other because we were talking to each other every single day, every single day for months and months and months. So you got to know about so and so's pet or so and so's kids. You know, you certain people get teased about certain things, you know. So we use humor a lot. And I'm sure we all had our own people that we could vent to, you know, Greg Potratz was one of my people because he was there. So he saw me just be wild at times. But yeah, I 00:44:00mean, I again, I think our group happened to be a bunch of pretty healthy individuals now that you asked me that, you know, no one was, you know, steamrolling anyone else and feeling like, oh, I can take care of that. I can take care of that. I mean, we learned to ask for help. You know, it was an evolving organism our EOC. It really was.

GL: The, so how did the atmosphere change once vaccinations became available?

LW: Well, you know, we certainly felt more hopeful. And you know, we had a look at again, the science and what we knew of okay, what kinds of things can we perhaps lighten up on or, or, you know, what precautions can we change or remove How do we promote the vaccine? So, I mean, again, the health of employees and 00:45:00students was number one, but at least we felt that we have some direction. And again, it would really we talked tons about how do we promote this? How do we encourage this?

GL: And how much do you feel like we're actually getting back to normal? Or what would normal look like to you?

LW: I think some things are never going to be the old normal. And they probably they probably were things that were going to happen eventually, anyway, but it would have been more of a slow, and I speak mainly to, you know, the virtual world. You know, people now, they just don't even want to have meetings in person, everyone wants to just do a team's meeting, or zoom or whatever format. 00:46:00I particularly don't like that, for doing it all the time. But you know, I'm older, I'm old school, I like to see people I like to, I just personally don't care for it. And I don't think we should do it all the time. But I'm not the one to say that. But you know, I think that was going to happen eventually. Anyway, it just would have been much a much more slow kind of a thing instead of bam, again, Mark Clements and his people in IT blow my mind, how they managed to get what they needed to get and do what they needed to do. And I know there were other people who I didn't work with so much and only know them on the periphery, who were helping faculty learn how to handle this and do all of this. So normal, I hope people all wash your hands more than they used to. I hope that's a habit, 00:47:00people who didn't do it so much picked up and maybe keep. It would be nice not to wear masks anymore. I mean, I think we're getting there. But I think that we will never be a pre COVID world again.

GL: And what has living and working in the time COVID taught you about yourself?

LW: Well, that I can still, despite my age kick butt and get things done. You know, I never expected to have to do things at this level of craziness. But I 00:48:00did. That I am a little I'm a little too judge-y. So that's not a good thing, but it's something I became more aware of, and it's something I am conscious of now. I think that's probably about it.

GL: Okay. And, Oh, were you when the vaccine did come? Were you, were you, were you excited to see it? Or were you?

LW: Yeah, I was. I mean, I had been reading CDC things virtually every day for months and months and months, as well as other resources. But I mean, definitely CDC because that's what you know, system was, was following. And we were 00:49:00following. So yeah, I was I was optimistic.

GL: Did you know anyone outside of the, you know, the campus community, Did you know anyone who ended up getting COVID?

LW: Well, my daughter did during the first summer and she had mild symptoms and she had picked it up at work from someone else who did something she shouldn't have. So fortunately, Leah had minor symptoms and she moved out of our house. She went to live with one of her little COVID friends I called her. And my husband and I were fine. And then really, I didn't and then this past year 2021 I actually, two people died. One person who I knew and the other was the brother 00:50:00of our neighbor. Yeah.

GL: Yeah, I think I think as time goes by, we will all find that we were really one or two degrees away from somebody.

LW: Oh, I'm sure. I think you're right. I'm sure you're right.

GL: Yeah. All right. Um, is there anything else that you would like to add that we haven't touched on? I, I think we did touch on most of the

LW: I? No, I think really, we have touched on everything.

GL: You know what

LW: Very challenging.

GL: Actually, I do want to ask you something else that's not on this on this sheet. What attracted you to the field that you're in right now?

LW: Actually, I had been a human resource manager after I was a social worker. 00:51:00And I was at a nursing home. So I was, I was in health care, which I really like health care. And so there were it was a corporate nursing home owned by a big corporation. And a number of changes were made at the corporate level, that made a lot of people very unhappy. So I was dealing with that as a Human Resource Management plus, plus, I was the first HR manager at that facility. And so anyway, long story short, I ended up leaving there. And I took a job in as a safety manager. And they're in a production facility. So totally different. But I did it because I wanted to get some more specialization as a human resource person, so I thought I could pick up more health kinds of thing. Well, anyway, I 00:52:00ended up liking it. And I worked at that place for 21 years. And I built the whole program there. So yeah, I mean, I just ended up liking, you know, and I was so used to compliance kinds of things. You know, as a social worker, you had child protective service laws, and then I went into human resources, and then it's workers compensation and EOC, and, you know, now I also regulate, you know, workers comp. So I just, I actually like to read regulatory things, which that's kind of weird, I guess, but I do. And I like to work with people in their challenges.

GL: Do you see risk everywhere you look?

LW: Yeah, I kind of do. Yeah, I kind of do. Yeah, my husband and daughter, you know, kind of laugh at me sometimes about observations I make and things like 00:53:00that. But I mean, you know, we all have our thing. So you will go into a restaurant if I walk past the fire extinguisher, I'll look and see if it's been inspected, or, you know, the condition of sidewalks somewhere, are people using poor ergonomics when they're lifting? So you know, that's, yeah.

GL: So the how do you do this? How do you look at the risk in involving COVID?

LW: Yeah. Well, you know, one of the things that, you know, it seems like the general public doesn't really understand, because, and I've heard it so much you hear it on TV, or I hear it at work, or hear it or see it on Facebook, which I can't believe I haven't quit yet. But you know, "oh, they're always changing things. They don't know what they're talking about, Oh they changed it again." And, and, you know, I just want to say, medicine and the human body are not 00:54:00black and white. And each human person is not the same. And we don't all have the same resources and so that I wish that people would, again, let the experts be the experts. I don't mean that people should run through life, never questioning anything, but there's certain things where you have to you have to rely on experts, to be experts and to that they're trying to give good information.

GL: All right. Well, thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the campus COVID stories at UW Oshkosh.

LW: It was my pleasure. Thank you