The last 14 months have meant leaning into all the ways we can support our team members and prioritize their health and safety. Not just the many protective measures we introduced to help keep people safe at work during the pandemic, but the steps we took to help foster health and wellness beyond prevention – from hiring our first Chief Medical Officer, to announcing community health centers for our team members, to offering a prescription drug savings program.

But none of the measures we have taken would be possible without the Tyson Foods nursing staff and administrative support personnel. In honor of Nurse Appreciation Week, we asked five of our staff nurses about how the last year has impacted their roles, what they have learned along the way, and what they will carry with them into the future.

Sally Barveld – Zeeland, Mich.

I am very proud of this company. We had many conversations and meetings this past year with local health departments, and so many said Tyson Foods was doing a great job keeping our team members safe. I always knew I had a great team within my department, but I most definitely know it now. 

Through all of the changes, we made sure our team members knew we cared about them. At times, I leaned on fellow coworkers when I felt overwhelmed or was having a bad day.  

I feel hopeful now that we are able to get our team educated about the vaccine and having a successful vaccination clinic that continues to encourage others to get vaccinated. I look forward to the day when I get to see everyone’s smile again.

Colten Lewis – Van Buren, Ark.

So much has happened in the past year, it almost seems like a bit of a blur. For months, it was a constant barrage of Zoom meetings, screening team members for COVID-19, calling to follow up with those who were in quarantine, and trying to make sure my team and I were (and still are) complying with guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

However, with all of its challenges, I’m still thankful that this last year has emphasized how vital nurses and other health care workers are to Tyson Foods and communities around the world. I’ve also come to develop a strong appreciation for the other parts of the company that stepped up and helped nursing staff when needed. 

If I have learned anything from this past year, it’s that we are going to come together and do everything possible to look out for and care for one another.

Tammie Swanson – Storm Lake, Iowa

This past year has been like nothing I could have ever imagined or planned for. At first, it took some time to replace the initial fear, anticipation, and uncertainty of what was coming, while marching forward with education, implementation of safety measures, and constant follow up with team members. 

It was our responsibility to keep everyone safe. We couldn’t let our guards down even for a moment. We spent endless hours trying to stay ahead of something we really didn’t know much about.  

Remembering how far we’ve come and looking toward the future, I see the positive impact we made on our team members and truly believe it will continue. We educated and helped them stay safe, be proactive, and protect themselves as well as their families.  As I reflect on these past months, it has truly been inspiring to make a difference for so many people, and it has most definitely been life changing.

Caitlin Wells – Rogers, Ark.

During the pandemic, I have worked in both a hospital capacity, and most recently, as a nurse for Tyson Foods. I have been at bedsides on a COVID floor and treated Tyson Foods team members.

A couple things I’ve learned and continue to understand is how resilient the field of nursing is, and it is a team sport. Amid all the scenarios that left nurses over-worked, sleepless, and away from family, we have learned to rely on each other to make it through and continue to provide the best care possible.

I’ve learned my co-workers are strong people who I can always rely on to help patients and myself. That is true of the hospital and especially of my new team at Tyson. They will always do whatever it takes to care for people, whether it’s a COVID case, or even something outside the realm of healthcare. They care for people in every aspect. 

I’ve also learned a lot about my own strength. I’ve learned I can work through a global, life-changing circumstance and come out stronger on the other side. 

Getting the vaccine, and seeing others get the vaccine, has been such a ray of light this year. Seeing the hope people have has brought me so much joy. You can almost see people’s excitement to get hug their loved ones again when they receive their vaccine, and their faces just light up. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and I hope we never take it for granted.

Brandi Bryant – Carthage, Texas

This past year has been one to remember. I went from being a first shift staff nurse at Tyson Foods in Rogers, Ark., to transferring to Carthage, Texas, to be the COVID nurse at that location.

There were some challenges for sure, from learning new systems, to learning the process of COVID testing – all with a new team of people in Carthage. I knew it would be difficult, but I also knew Tyson Foods would give me all the resources I needed. I believe the year ahead will be much smoother, and I’m looking forward to that for myself and all of my fellow team members.