Wessington Springs grandparents follow their “calling” during pandemic
When Ben and Chantelle (Patton) Wille hugged their kids goodbye on March 16, they had no idea it would be 68 days until they would feel their children's embrace again.
As Wessington Springs School District students and parents returned their remote learning materials and settled into a summer routine earlier this month, local grandparents Don and Deb Patton carried on conducting classes at home for their three grandchildren as their daughter Chantelle, a nurse in the emergency department at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls, continued to work on the front lines during the current era of COVID-19.
“We feel totally, totally blessed to have been able to do what we could to help the family,” said Deb, about her and Don taking on the role of guardians and school teacher for Brayden (11), Harper (9) and Presley (6) . “We are happy to be filling these shoes and will fill them as long as we have to.”
In addition to working as a nurse in the emergency department at McKennan, Chantelle also works as a nurse educator, with duties that include planning for a possible large influx of COVID-19 patients, developing procedures and educating staff from other departments so they’re ready to work with the emergency department if a spike of coronavirus patients presents at the hospital.
Chantelle’s husband Ben, works in the heating and cooling industry and between their two schedules and potential COVID-19 exposure at work, the couple didn’t think that keeping the kids at home on the weekends and going back and forth to Wessington Springs was the safe thing to do.
“When they stopped having school in March, the kids were going to my parent’s house during the week and coming home on the weekend,” Chantelle explained. “It got to the point where it didn’t seem like the safe thing to do, to go back and forth. Especially with the risk of exposing my parents. That’s when we decided that they needed to stay in Wessington Springs,” Chantelle explained.
Read the full story and view more photographs in this week's print and e-issue.
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