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Working wounded stay standing

Scott N. Miller
NWS Sick Work PU 11-18-06
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EAGLE COUNTY – Working sick is kind of like speeding. People aren’t supposed to do it, but just about everyone does it from time to time.This is the start of what’s commonly called “cold and flu season.” It’s also ski season, when a lot of people in the valley make most of their yearly income. A lot of those people believe they can’t afford to be sick.”You just sort of pretend you’re not sick,” said Daryn Ostendorf of the Vail Athletic Club. “You drink a lot of fluids. Everybody around here has a water bottle all the time.”When the trainers and other employees at the Vail Athletic Club get sick, they have a bit of an edge, Ostendorf said.”The sauna is great,” she said. “You can come in and sweat it out. A little cardio to sweat it out is good, too.”While a sauna’s nice, not everyone can jump in the sweatbox just before or after a shift. Jeri Penland has been a concierge at the Vail Cascade for about five years now, working in the zone between indoors and out.She said the folks who come in sick aren’t exactly shunned, but they do get treated a little different.

“Even with four sets of phones, everyone uses all of them all the time,” Penland said. “We try to Clorox the phones and use antiseptic wipes. But we’ll assign one phone to a sick person who comes in.”Penland said her bosses are understanding when it comes to sick days. Sometimes, though, it’s unavoidable.”I’ll come in when I don’t feel so good, but I’ll go home if I’m not feeling any better,” Penland said. “But I try to stick it out through the rushes.”People who deal with the public and the elements try to take good care of themselves, Penland said.”We try not to party too much,” Penland said. And, of course, there’s the nearly obsessive cleansing of phones, computer keyboards, and virtually anything else more than one person might touch.That goes on at the Vail Athletic Club, too, Ostendorf said. “We take a lot of vitamin C, and we put alcohol on keyboards, (computer) mice and the phones every morning and at every shift change.”Cass Galloway has been a preschool teacher for 17 years now, which means she lives her professional life in a germ factory.”You wash, wash, wash your hands,” Galloway said. “You wash your hands every two seconds, and use the wipes at the grocery store before you grab a cart.”Lorelei Bank takes things even farther. Bank works in the Sharpshooter Photography office in Vail Village. There are often more than a dozen people crowded together in the small office, so germs can run rampant.”I really can’t afford to be sick,” Bank said. A big believer in homeopathic medicine, Bank swears by a flu remedy called oscillococcinum.She’ll offer some of those remedies to employees with the sniffles, and if someone’s really sick, she’ll send that person home.To keep herself healthy, Bank will run light switches and doorknobs with her sleeves.”And I just don’t touch little kids,” she said.While most folks will come to work with varying levels of a bug, Evin Garretson-Werner just says no.Garretson-Werner , a trainer at the Vail Athletic Club, believes strongly in not getting other people sick, so she takes the age-old advice from doctors and mothers everywhere.”Especially in my profession, the best thing to do is just stay home in bed, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest so I can go to work the next day,” she said. “People coming to work sick is why everyone gets sick.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado CO


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