By Melanee Terry
Health and safety have been top priorities for the public during the COVID-19 pandemic and Linda Mastro of the University of Maine at Presque Isle has ensured that with the school’s students. She has managed the University’s health services for 22 years and has demonstrated acts of leadership and courageousness this year, despite the challenges.
Linda is the Director of Health Services and is also referred to as UMPI’s nurse. She meets with students to help them with their health services needs and lends a hand whenever they might need it. Linda manages work connected with the Maine State Vaccine Law to promote wellness on campus. Linda’s assistant and work study students also help with various health education promotions.
Just like other UMPI faculty and staff members, Linda’s job has changed tremendously over the course of a year. She still does the majority of her work on campus, but the way she does that work is very different. As the health care provider on campus, Linda used to work primarily face-to-face with students, but that has changed. Her favorite part of the job was meeting with students every day to assist them with their health.
“This last year has been a challenge due to most of my student contact being via Zoom. In order to deliver health care, you need to be able to be in a person’s personal space and to deliver care. The whole delivery of health care this year has been a challenge,” Linda said. “I look forward to the day, hopefully soon, when I can deliver health care in the Health Center.”
Linda works in the Emerson Annex, which has been closed for student walk-ins. The Annex is an area on campus where students can be assisted with their health and residence life needs. Most services in the Annex have been delivered to students virtually. This process has been difficult for Linda, who is someone that thrives off of student interactions. She looks forward to plans for the Health Center opening up for student walk-ins during the first half of March.
“I am thankful for Zoom because I can get to see student reactions rather than just talking on a phone. Zoom is a good tool but I am very excited about providing health care going forward during this semester,” Linda said.
Linda is not the only Annex employee that misses daily student interactions. While they are doing what they can to provide student services and they have been handling these changes well, she said they are all looking forward to the day that they can open their doors. Linda is grateful for her coworkers in the Annex and everything they have done for each other and students.
As for Linda, she is staying positive as she continues to be there for students. She has been able to provide the same health service to students, despite the change in format. She still works hard to keep students healthy, so they can live a productive lifestyle and be successful college students. She has been very adaptable in her work and looks forward to seeing students in-person again. Linda exemplifies what it means to be an Owl Hero on campus during such difficult times.
In reflecting on the last year, the importance of communication and making connections with others has never been more important to Linda. She has learned to not take anything for granted and encourages others to do the same.
“I try to enjoy the little things in life. Life is short. Communication in any way with friends and family helps to decrease stress and increase support during these times,” Linda said.