Frontline Heroes: Sanaya Sturm, Dr. Laura Sehnert, Jennifer Koepfer, Derek Morris, Krissy Leonetti, Leigh Whittum
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.
Sanaya Sturm serves as supervisor of the Jan Bishop Cancer Center at Yampa Valley Medical Center. Not only has she taken over the challenges of the cancer center, she has also been instrumental in running the new infusions for those with COVID-19 to help keep them out of the hospital. Sanaya is dedicated to the community and shows her strength every day.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Laura Sehnert has led UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center through the COVID-19 crisis with calm, commitment and hard work. For the past year she has worked with the community and UCHealth to make sure the local hospital and community was prepared for anything. Laura is the hero leading a dedicated medical team.
As owner of Fridge Fillers and What a Cook, Jennifer Koepfer selflessly offered to help delivery groceries to Routt County’s most vulnerable populations at no charge for delivery. Her business suffered a huge loss during the pandemic but this did not stop Jen from continuing to deliver groceries to those who couldn’t shop for themselves. She never thought twice about giving back to her community in a time of need. She did weekly grocery runs for Casey’s Pond residents at no charge and also worked with the hospital to delivery groceries to a designated drop-off point for doctors, nurses and hospital employees. And she was delivering groceries to Routt County residents who didn’t want to risk shopping at the grocery store and for many at no delivery fee.
Derek Morris is a husband and father to four young kids as well as a HVAC and refrigeration technician. He is a born-and-raised local who steps up at every occasion to help, rarely saying “no” and constantly putting others first. During the pandemic, he was who someone called if their heat went out in the middle of the night or a water leak became a problem. He showed up not just for people who were clients but friends, family and total strangers who couldn’t get someone to call them back. Most of the time he was able to walk the homeowner through fixing the problem over the phone in an attempt to limit in-person contact.
Krissy Leonetti is a fabulous and caring licensed massage therapist. She worked to help her clients until quarantine laws prevented her from doing so and was the first to get back to work when legally allowed to. When she was unable to meet face to face with her clients, she stayed available remotely to offer advice and techniques for pain management to her clients and the community. Krissy is very involved in the community, volunteering often and participating with enthusiasm in local events.
Leigh Whittum is a grocery store checkout clerk at Safeway. She has been with Safeway at least 10 years. She is older and could be more susceptible to the flu, colds and now COVID-19. Leigh has worked week in and week out since the pandemic hit one year ago. She is small in stature and has a soft voice. She is larger than life in customers’ eyes as she is kind, understanding and humble, patient and caring. Her being at work every week during this pandemic, along with her maturity and sense of caring, have benefited the community during this time. Long lines at check out, or not, Leigh has been there. She could have chose to quit to protect herself from this virus but she chose not to.
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