When we think of radiology, the first thing most people think of is an X-ray, but radiology isn’t just about scans and images. Radiology is the main diagnostic tool for many diseases and without it, healthcare professionals would have a hard time diagnosing what’s wrong with a patient and how to best treat them. That is why Shawna Strand, the Director of Radiology with Platte Health Center Avera is this week’s SDAHO Healthcare Hero.
Shawna has been part of the Platte Health Center Avera diagnostic imaging team for the past 17 years. In 2020 Shawna stepped into her new role as the Director of Radiology. “Patient care is my favorite part of my job and I enjoy getting to do different modalities such as CT, X-Ray and Mammography.” When Shawna began her career with the Platte Health Center, part of her task was to start a Mammography program and she admits she enjoys Mammography the most. “I have had an aunt and grandma both go through breast cancer. I enjoy the one-on-one patient care with Mammography and being able to offer them guidance or even a hug if needed.”
Shawna is originally from Scenic, South Dakota, where she grew up on a ranch. She graduated from Wall High school and received her degree in Radiology from Mitchell Technical Institute. Shawna says healthcare wasn’t her first career choice, accounting was. “My high school English teacher had me do a PowerPoint with 2 different careers and while researching I came across Radiology. I wanted to be a piece of a puzzle that helps patients with their diagnosis and care.” Shawna has seen rural healthcare progress immensely over the past decade. She says being able to offer E-Emergency, E-Pharmacy and Telemedicine at the push of a button has changed the landscape of healthcare in smalls towns like Platte. “These options save patients hours of travel time all while receiving specialty care close to home.” Those who work alongside Shawna say she is a great asset to the facility and the community. “Shawna has taken over the Director role running. She has stepped in and filled in wherever needed to keep the department running.” Michelle Holzbauer, Avera Health
When COVID-19 hit rural South Dakota, Shawna found herself working the frontline which she said was mentally, physically, and emotionally tough. During the height of the pandemic, Shawna found it hard to hear the larger hospitals were at capacity and were not accepting transfers in. “Knowing that a patient may not be able to receive the lifesaving or surgical care they needed was hard.” COVID-19 has brought a whole new concept to how healthcare is delivered. “Now a common cold or sore throat becomes more of a process because you have to rule out the ‘COVID’ word.” Through the difficulties, Shawna says her team persevered and their teamwork and dedication made them even stronger. “We pulled together, and I feel our team is stronger than ever. Every department stepped up to help each other whether we were busy, short staffed or just needed a moment to step back and take a breath.”
As Shawna looks back not only at the past 18 months but the span of her career she appreciates working in rural South Dakota and a facility that has allowed her to connect with patients. “The most rewarding part of healthcare for me is working in a rural facility and being able to connect more closely with our patients and being a familiar face to them in a time of need.” When asked how she feels about being called a healthcare hero, “I am honored to have been chosen as a healthcare hero, but I consider our team all heroes! Thank you to my co-workers, family and community for this honor.”
Shawna Strand, thank you for all you do and congratulations on being a SDAHO Healthcare Hero!