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OCC Graduate on the Front Lines of Local COVID-19 Fight

Zuber Photo

Olney Central College graduate Mackenzie Zuber is on the front lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

A Family Nurse Practitioner with Carle Richland Memorial Hospital’s Primary Care Clinic in Olney, Zuber has been assisting with its Respiratory Evaluation Clinic. The testing site has been operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week since March 16.

“We are evaluating patient symptoms and determining their place of employment. If they meet criteria, we will run a COVID test if an influenza and respiratory panel are found to be negative.” she said.

Initially, Zuber was helping man the REC while holding regular office hours four days a week. The office is now open just two days a week.

“I work alongside Dr. Drew Schmucker and one or the other of us is in the office to make sure our patients’ needs are met,” she added.

For Zuber the most challenging aspect of her work has been communicating to people the seriousness of this virus and the need not to take any unnecessary risks with going out.

“Our residents need to stay home,” she emphasized. “If symptoms are mild, they need to manage them at home. If they become more serious, that is the time to call your primary care provider or go to the ER.”

Zuber has worked for Carle Richland Memorial Hospital since completing her Associate Degree in Nursing at Olney Central College in 2000. She served as the Director of Home Health and Hospice Southeastern Illinois for six years.

“About halfway through that management time, I realized I missed my nursing roots and ultimately missed taking care of and being one-on-one with patients,” Zuber said. “I learned a lot from working management for several years, but it is not why I went into nursing. I opted to continue working full-time while going back to school for my NP Degree.”

She added, “I knew automatically I wanted to be in family practice when I started back to school. I love working with all ages and being able to see the entire family.”

Zuber was raised in Noble and graduated from West Richland High School. While attending OCC she was active in both Student Senate and the Student Nurses Association.

“OCC helped me with my career by instilling the baseline nursing skills,” she added.

Zuber holds a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from McKendree University in Lebanon. She received both her master’s degree in nursing and NP degree from Maryville University in St. Louis, Mo.

For Zuber, music has been one of the best stress relievers during this difficult time.

“My family is also a great source of comfort and stress relief,” she said. “We have a routine of face-timing every evening when I get home from work.”

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