Adjusting to Pandemic Life with The Beacon

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 3.50.18 PMLife as we know it at SMCC changed abruptly as the fallout from COVID 19 forced the school to close and businesses to shut down in an effort to contain the virus. Every member of the SMCC community: students, faculty, staff and administration are adjusting to the new reality.  The Beacon reached out to the SMCC community last week to find out how everybody is adjusting to this pandemic lifestyle. We asked…

How has it affected you?

How are you overcoming the challenges it presents?

Has it changed your lifestyle, in the slightest bit, or in a major way?

Do you see yourself returning to SMCC after the situation is resolved?

We also asked SMCC students to share their interests: art projects, recipes, favorite automobiles, suggestions for plant care, healthy tips to sustain a stable emotional outlook, business tips for surviving the economic down swing, poems, movie reviews, child care tips during trying times, your favorite sports moments or heros in an effort to hear from someone from every department. 

Within a few moments of sending out the initial email, the Beacon received a few responses:

Christine Small said, “So far the hardest part is having my regular online classwork (midterm) and trying to homeschool my kids! Oh my goodness! I am ready for normalcy.” 

We are too, Christine!!

Julia Gobbi shared her tales from working in healthcare during the pandemic, “Coming at you live from healthcare central, with the 4-1-1 on the Coronavirus. If it hasn’t already been made obvious this pandemic is raging across the country and the state of Maine. Currently [at the time this was written], 52 total positive/presumptive positives cases in Maine and we are just getting started. 

“I am just finishing up my externship hours in a family practice office in Kittery, Maine and we are getting hit at both ends. With patients from New Hampshire and Maine, it’s never ending. The facility is now moving completely to telehealth and phone call patient visits, meaning the patient can log into our portal and have a facetime call with their provider, or the provider can call them on the phone and talk. 

“This has been a huge undertaking, as we were not prepared to transition this soon. It takes a village by all means to call patients and tell them that they cannot enter the office due to the virus, and they have only two choices: either set up a portal or get a phone call. Some are very reluctant about this as they have no idea what a portal is, especially if they are of the older generation. Some are more accepting of this transition, even some older patients. They understand that this virus is spreading like a literal wildfire and that for some it’s best to stay home where it’s safe, rather than go out. 

“During these times I’ve been making a lot of phone calls and taking them as well, because patients are genuinely scared, concerned, and confused with what is going on. They want their medication early before they can get it because they think that since no one can get toilet paper, then they might be able to get their meds. Others have called saying they have the slightest sniffle and believe they have the virus, demanding to be tested. It doesn’t work like that, unfortunately. Others are calling because they fall into the category of having a pre-existing condition which puts them at risk for this, and requiring documentation from their provider so they don’t need to be at work but still get paid. 

“We have had others saying I have this and that and need a note about it, but when you look in their chart that condition isn’t there. All of this is very understandable, people are watching the news and media and are seeing some pretty scary things. If we as a state and country remain calm, wash our hands, and stop hoarding supplies we will be just fine. This virus has a decently high recovery rate, with most deaths being to those who are elderly or have a pre-existing condition. 

“I am currently not scared, rather have a certain amount of concern for the general safety and wellbeing of the rest of the world. If we follow the general guidelines being set by the CDC we should come out of this on top. It is not the end of the world, we have been through pandemics before and we have always come out on the other side. So that has been my lovely experience with COVID-19 and I hope everyone out there is taking precautions. Stay well my friends.”

You heard it here, folks. Listen to the CDC!!

Dilyse Lorello said, “I feel like I’m way more conscious of how many times I touch my face, and I’m particular about how I wash my hands. I’ve ended up watching a lot of movies online because I can’t really go out and see people. I facetime my friends too. I am looking forward to returning to SMCC. I can’t wait to go to the beach in between classes. I hope you’re well.”

The campus beach would be the perfect stress relief right about now! If only we could get the sun to come out more.

Taliesen Itchkawich responded, “Currently still working through extended break, but limiting all gatherings over 10 people has caused my band to stop playing indefinitely at this time. While I continue to practice, I’m starting to feel isolated from the commerce and social interactions I enjoy every day. 

Starting and finishing at home projects and busy work have kept me sustained to this point. I’ve made all the necessary trips to the grocery store and look to only do so once each week now. 

I’ve always enjoyed my time at SMCC and will continue to do so, virus or not. Practicing proper infection prevention measures is only good practice for those who did not previously. Unfortunately, I feel that there will be a vast majority of folks who contract the virus, it just being a matter of when. That being said, being prepared for that event is the best we can approach with. 

“With the infection rate attempting to be ‘flattened’, this will affect so many businesses and the livelihood of those who work for them, worse maybe for the self employed. This will cause financial hardships and drop credit scores. For those that are focused on increasing their credit score, what kind of steps can someone take to avoid backed payments without a steady cash flow?”

That’s a good question, Taliesen. One might not find much solace in the fact that there will be tons of financial pain spread across SMCC, the country and the world because of the economic fallout from COVID 19. However, there is one tried and true standard that comes to mind: try to live within your means. Yes, it’s easier said than done, however it starts with prioritizing. Spend your money on what you really need to spend it on.

The Beacon staff did a quick Google search: “Financial resources for Maine Students struggling because of COVID 19”, after .53 of a second 398,000 sites popped up. The seventh site you’ll find when scrolling down is: Financial Assistance | Benefits.gov

Hit the link and you’ll discover that the assistance programs are alphabetized. To the M’s we went and here are two links that may be of assistance for our Maine resident students.  



The best advice that the Beacon can offer is to be as pro-active as possible. Think logically and creatively. If you are a single mother, Google financial assistance for single mothers in Maine. If you are a single father, Google financial assistance for single fathers, the same for Veterans.

Call the utility companies that you have accounts with to see if there is a way to lighten your financial obligations. 

Again the Beacon Googled: can I pay my utility bills partially? Within two clicks we were on the Federal Trades Commission Consumer Information Utility Services web page. The page states: “If you are behind in your utility payments, contact the utility company immediately to see if they can work out a payment arrangement with you until you can be current on your bill. Often, companies are willing to keep  your services on if you pay a portion of the overdue bill and catch up your payments.”   

The Beacon reached out to professor Mark Reuscher, the Business Department Chair for his advice. Mark responded, “my biggest suggestion would be to communicate to everyone you presently owe (rent, credit cards, etc). Many people will work with you during this time, but you have to communicate! Absolutely live within your means, put off things that are not necessities.”  

The Beacon continues to want to hear from SMCC students. You can email us your thoughts, your experiences, your creatives, your tips, your insights to: mbeacon@smccme.edu

Join the conversation.






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