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Savannah Boltz: Infection preventionist prevails in pandemic

From the 2022 Nurses Honorees series
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Savannah Boltz

As an infection preventionist, Savannah Boltz has been at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 for the past three years.

Boltz, 36, is the infection preventionist and quality assurance coordinator at the Good Samaritan Society - Miller Pointe. The senior living community in Mandan offers inpatient rehabilitation, long-term care and outpatient rehabilitation.

“In this role I track and review infections for both residents and staff, provide education for staff, and lead quality projects for the facility,” Boltz said. “The last few years have obviously added some atypical hats to all nurses, but traditionally my role involves monitoring for regulatory compliance, training, and competencies for new employees and/or procedures.”

Boltz started her career in nursing as a certified nursing assistant in her hometown of New Salem. She worked at Elm Crest Manor and immediately fell in love with caring for seniors. She went on to enroll in the nursing program at the University of Mary in 2004 and graduated in 2008. She spent the next several years as a psychiatric nurse at CHI St. Alexius, a floor nurse at Continuing Care Center Off Collins, and a nurse in the child and adolescent program at St. Alexius.

“All were great experiences and led me to my current role at Miller Pointe,” she said. “I have been at Miller Pointe since 2014 and have been able to return to my first true nursing love of long-term care.”

Despite all Boltz’s studies and work experiences, nothing really prepared her (or anyone else) for the realities of the pandemic. Her colleague, Alena Goergen, nominated her for The Bismarck Tribune’s “Nurses: The Heart of Health Care” award because of her resilience.

“The past two years have been anything but easy for nurses in long-term care,” Goergen said. “Savannah has gone above and beyond to keep up with the ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding COVID-19.”

Boltz and 12 other outstanding nurses will be recognized during Nurses Week at a luncheon on May 11.

Boltz said the pandemic changed the way long-term care facilities conduct daily operations.

“Over the past few years, a day in my career has changed greatly due to the current pandemic,” Boltz said. “My days are never the same, arriving at Miller Pointe usually consists of compiling information and prioritizing what needs to be handled first. From serial testing of residents and staff, contact tracing, isolation set up, vaccination review, quality audits, education, but honestly every day is a little different.”

Despite the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, Goergen said Boltz’s passion for her patients is inspiring.

“She enjoys the time she spends training to ensure good quality care for the residents and is always willing to help out with any project that will benefit the lives of the residents,” Goergen said.

Unfortunately, Boltz said the repercussions of COVID-19 have negatively impacted her fellow employees and residents.

“The isolation piece for the residents,” Boltz said. “The inability for family involvement in their lives, the ever-changing regulations, the loss of residents, and watching the staff burnout take hold (has been difficult).”

Even though adjusting to COVID-19 rules and regulations has been challenging, Boltz still finds reasons to be grateful.

“Some days you feel like you are running on a hamster wheel and then one good catch, one thing you did changed the course of someone’s life, and that is the moment you remember why you became a nurse,” Boltz said.

Boltzand her husband, James, live in Mandan. The couple has two young children, Ethan, 6, and Aurora, 4.

“Some days you feel like you are running on a hamster wheel and then one good catch, one thing you did changed the course of someone’s life, and that is the moment you remember why you became a nurse.”

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