Frontline Heroes: Kara Stoller, Ryan Larson, Shannon Steen, Aaron Baker, Joe Oakland
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — To mark the one-year milestone of the COVID-19 pandemic in Routt County, Steamboat Pilot & Today asked people to nominate local individuals who they believed went above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the last year, Kara Stoller, CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber, has tirelessly worked on behalf of local businesses to find the balance between keeping them open and keeping the community safe. She is the No. 1 advocate for the community from frontline workers to business leaders. Kara attends every COVID-19 meeting and calls into voice the Chamber’s stance at every opportunity. She is literally the voice of the business community. She leads a team that makes sure the community knows the impacts of current restrictions, best practices to stay afloat and encourages the business community to stay involved. Kara’s efforts have helped keep businesses open, and she never settles for “this is how it has to be.” She has creative ideas about new ways to operate, resources for businesses and collaborating with every entity to advance the community safely. She also advocates at the state level, and as a result of her efforts and hard work, Steamboat will emerge more cohesively across industries.
Ryan Larson is director of clinic operations at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. His operational tenacity, organization skills and calm-under-pressure approach have been essential in ensuring patient care continued during the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, it felt as if everything was put on hold; however, the health care needs of the community didn’t stop. Ryan and his team worked rapidly to convert nearly a dozen clinics to virtual platforms, allowing patients and providers to safely interact. As COVID-19 testing became necessary in the community, Ryan worked with leaders to identify crucial details — location, staffing, safety precautions for staff and patients and schedules. And then as the pandemic progressed and vaccine allocations were imminent, Ryan again worked to stand up vaccination clinics, taking into account patient and staff workflows, operational efficiencies and spacing necessary to accommodate a high throughput of vaccinations under the constraints of physical space.
Shannon Steen is one of the kindest and most sincere human beings. She works at the deli at City Market in Steamboat Springs. She greets people by name, knows what they want before they even ask and always has the kindest words for every one of her customers. She is a hardworking single mother of a teenager and a young daughter commuting from Hayden every day. She brightens people’s day and inspires others to spread cheer and kindness to those they encounter.
Aaron Baker is a UPS guy who has a special way of connecting every time he drops off a package, no matter how busy he is. It’s always a pleasure to see his smiling face especially throughout this pandemic.
Joe Oakland serves this community with so much love and commitment. He responds to whatever is needed and whomever needs help. He is a firefighter and paramedic but his duties far exceed what is expected of him. As the shutdown happened, he moved out of his home to take care of COVID patients and not put his family at risk. He responds to calls when off duty regularly whenever there is a need. He responded to wildland fires as they creeped in close to home this fall. Joe dedicates every day to improving emergent first responses in Steamboat.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — To mark the one-year milestone of the COVID-19 pandemic in Routt County, Steamboat Pilot & Today asked people to nominate local individuals who they believed went above and beyond during the COVID-19…