Tori Bell – Unsung Hero

Tori Bell, a 27-year-old mother of two, juggles raising her daughters, ages five and nine, while working as a full-time licensed practical nurse (LPN) in the pediatrics clinic for Marietta Memorial Hospital, which is located in Ohio just across the river from Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Her work during the pandemic has earned Tori recognition as an Unsung Hero by the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS).

Tori struggles with ADHD, anxiety and depression but her problems were not diagnosed until after she graduated from Sissonville High School and her attempts at postsecondary education at Marshall University were unsuccessful.

Throughout school, Tori felt broken and incapable of learning. Her mom, Sherry Bell, is a vocational rehabilitation counselor for DRS and she finally convinced her daughter to seek assistance from the agency. Tori worked with a now-retired DRS counselor who arranged for assessments that helped Tori learn about her disability and identify a viable career path.

Tori enrolled in the LPN program at Washington State Community College in Marietta, Ohio, and earned her degree in 2018. While extremely anxious about taking her certification exam, which could be anywhere from 84 to 300 questions, Tori's test ended after just 84 questions because she got them all correct.

Tori has worked as a nurse in the pediatrics clinic for Marietta Memorial Hospital for nearly two years now. On her job, she prepares patients, from newborns to those under age 18, to see the doctor. That involves taking vitals, getting them in a room, administering vaccinations, performing swab tests to check for COVID-19 and the flu, and much more. She sees approximately 30 patients a day.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Tori's hours were cut, and she lost one day of work every week, which was a tremendous financial burden for someone trying to support a family. For the last several months, she has been back to work full time. They take many precautions to protect people in the office from COVID-19; depending on the circumstances, that includes face masks, eye protection, face shields, gowns, gloves and incessant cleaning between patients.

They have also made changes in the way they see patients, restructuring the day, so they can do wellness checks during the first part of the day and then see patients who are actively sick toward the end of the day. Only one parent can accompany a child into the clinic and everyone above age three must wear a mask, which is not always well received by those coming into the office.

It is not uncommon for Tori and her co-workers to have to deal with parents who are angry about the clinic's policies. This is unsettling to Tori because she and the other workers in the clinic are just trying to do a job to support themselves.

At her job, Tori uses her disabilities of ADHD and anxiety in positive ways. The ADHD gives her plenty of energy for dealing with kids and coaxing them into wearing a mask. With her anxiety, she has developed a system of checks and balances using Post-it notes to keep track of things that need done.

Tori's anxiety also filters into taking great care that she does not carry COVID-19 home to her family. Removing her shoes before she goes into the house and changing clothes immediately after work are just some of the steps she has taken to prevent this from happening.

While the pandemic has certainly increased her stress at work, Tori and her co-workers rely on each other for support. By talking and laughing with each other throughout the day, she can usually put it behind her when she goes home in the evening.

Tori is extremely humble about being recognized as an Unsung Hero. She does not believe she is doing anything extraordinary. As a long-term goal, Tori hopes to go back to school at some point to pursue her degree to be a registered nurse.