Member Story – Vanessa Seastrong


“We should act like everyone has the virus” and protect ourselves.

Vanessa Seastrong is a Registered Nurse and one of the healthcare professionals in the state who’s working inside the wire at Patton State Hospital, providing care for patients while striving to keep herself, her colleagues, and her patients as safe and healthy as possible.

Normally, Vanessa works in the specialty clinic, where contract doctors provide treatment for as many as 60 patients each day. Now, the clinic is closed for all but emergency treatment in an effort to minimize patient movement — and risky exposure.

“Despite all reasonable efforts, we’re still in a potential “hot zone” and the anxiety level is high,” says Vanessa. “On top of the virus itself, we’re all concerned by a rapidly changing set of conditions that affect us at work and at home.”

The workloads have increased as well. “It’s all hands on deck,” said Vanessa. “Schedules have been changed to minimize overtime.”

The Patton facility houses criminally insane patients. One of the bigger challenges is the rising anxiety of the inmate population, who see the news but may not be able to process what it means. As a result, the hospital has actually increased staff during the crisis because of the need for staff to manage the movement of patients and help decrease anxiety levels.

Management at the Department of State Hospitals has been working to maintain as much transparency as possible regarding the outbreak of infections among patients as well as employees. “It provides us an additional measure of confidence and encouragement during a tough time,” said Vanessa. “But safety starts with us.”

Her advice: “Walk around like everyone has it. Protect yourself!”