When COVID-19 cases first emerged in Beadle County, South Dakota about a year ago in March 2020, the community knew exactly who to turn to.
At the onset of the pandemic, Beadle County appointed Josh Carr, DC, (NUHS ’09) and Joe Carr, DC, (NUHS ’89) as medical directors of the Beadle County COVID-19 task force. The three other chiropractors within the family practice, Wayne Carr, DC, (NUHS ’87), John Carr, DC, (NUHS ’80) and Taylor Carr, DC, stepped in to help on the task force as well.
“Our broad spectrum training at National taught us how to do primary care and in rural South Dakota that is how Carr Chiropractic Clinic has practiced health care for 61 years,” said Dr. John Carr. “We just went the next step and made a difference while taking care of the people in our community.
In February, the Carr family was recognized for their extensive efforts during the pandemic and collectively received the American Chiropractic Association’s Humanitarian of the Year Award.
“We were all very surprised and humbled,” Dr. Josh Carr said.
The family was first asked to help the task force by a friend who was also an infectious disease expert at the local hospital. Alongside other members of the task force such asthe chief of police, school superintendent, a dentist, optometrist and a retired military nurse, etc., the Carrs took the lead on the medical side. Their main goal was to protect the hospital from a large influx of patients by monitoring cases and ensuring only severe cases went to the hospital when needed.
The Carrs helped set up a call center that followed-up with new cases along with a drive-through testing center, where they also helped provide pamphlets with CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) specific guidelines about worsening signs and symptoms. To get the word out about the testing center, they also created press releases and organized a live YouTube video to provide additional information.
Overall, the Carr family responded to the pandemic with the training that National taught them: doctor first, chiropractor by discipline.
“Dr. Joseph Janse and then president Dr. Winterstein instilled that in all of us while we were there,” Dr. Joe Carr said. “We were very prepared to handle the testing based upon our anatomy and diagnostic skills. We were very prepared to set up and supervise the call center because we are trained so well on how to communicate with people.”
In March 2020, Huron, a town within Beadle County, already had 6 COVID cases, two of which were fatal. As the pandemic progressed, there was also an onset of cases at a meat packing plant before the area hit its peak in June.
“At the time of crisis our training just kicked in and we knew we had to do something so we figured out a way to get it done. This is what we do and who we are,” said Dr. Wayne Carr, who served as head of the task force’s call center.
Eventually, a city-wide mandate on wearing masks in Huron along with social distancing helped bring down the amount of cases. Today, Huron has about 100 active cases and its testing site is still open four days a week. The task force’s latest goal is to keep the public informed about vaccine eligibility and how to get one.
In addition to helping their community, the Carr family’s efforts have also brought them closer.
“We were spending a lot of time together. At that time, as cases started rising, we were coming in on Saturdays and Sundays,” Dr. Josh Carr said. “It was a race against the time…the biggest thing was caring for our patients. Not for ourselves.”