‘Above and beyond’: Lentz, Stambaugh win Carroll Hospital’s top awards after year unlike any other

Carroll County is finally beginning to see a light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel, and in the afterglow, many heroes who stepped forward to serve are now illuminated.

Among them are Carroll Hospital’s recently named Physician of the Year, Dr. Sarah Lentz, and Advanced Practice Provider of the Year, Judith Stambaugh.


“One of the biggest challenges during COVID has been the uncertainty,” Lentz said. “At first it was the uncertainty of what this virus was and how far would it go. All our lives were in upheaval. Elective surgeries were shut down and I had to become a parent-teacher, not an easy task. When at the hospital, it was scary because we knew little about COVID, how best to protect ourselves, how best to treat our patients. Would we bring it home to our families? What if we got it?

Dr. Sarah Lentz was named Carroll Hospital's Physician of the Year.
Dr. Sarah Lentz was named Carroll Hospital's Physician of the Year. (Carroll Hospital)

“Our medical staff took the challenge head on and working together have weathered the storm thus far. I can say with certainty though that there isn’t a single person on our staff that hasn’t been affected personally whether by mental and physical fatigue, anxiety, loss of a colleague, friend or family member.”


Each month, the hospital gives out awards for Physician of the Month and APP of the Month from nominations that come in. At the end of the year, a committee chooses an annual winner in each category, with Dr. Mark Olszyk, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer at Carroll Hospital weighing in.

Affiliated with Carroll Hospital since 2013 (and prior to that from 2006 to 2010), Lentz is a general surgeon, chosen for her expert surgical skills and high quality care of patients.

Lentz was affected by he virus in a personal way. Her husband’s father contracted COVID-19 and passed at Carroll Hospital. It only adds to her level of compassion.

“I have always felt I am a steward of my community and try to provide the best care possible, give back to the community and set a good example for my peers,” she said. “I try to treat my patients, the staff and my colleagues as I would like to be treated by a family member. Sometimes this involves difficult discussions, sometimes disagreement, always compassion, and always trying my best to understand their situation. As with everything in life, I have variable success, but I keep trying.”


Olszyk recognizes this.

“Dr. Lentz has served as president of the medical staff and is a sought-after consultant and adviser,” he said. “Her primary motivation is the safety and well-being of her patients. Because of her equanimity and dedication, she is very deserving of this award.”

In March of 2021, after news broke that Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy was in crisis, Carroll Hospital responded, sending Stambaugh.

Overwhelmed with positive coronavirus cases and dying patients, the advanced practice provider faced a situation unlike any in her 37 years in the medical field. After a full day of work, she racked up 17 more hours in full protective gear, assessing patients, providing PPE, developing quarantine policy, contacting family members and updating MOLST (medical orders for life sustaining treatment) forms.

She witnessed bewildered patients visibly struggling to breathe, a fearful staff and family members in a state of panic.

Judith Stambaugh was named Carroll Hospital's Advanced Practice Provider of the Year.
Judith Stambaugh was named Carroll Hospital's Advanced Practice Provider of the Year. (Carroll Hospital)

Stambaugh, a family nurse practitioner, has been affiliated with the hospital for 15 years. She is known for her extraordinary care, dedication and skill, attributes that became more evident as she soldiered on, working to fix a broken system amid a pandemic.

“Judy went above and beyond serving as the sole provider at the nursing home and at the same time supplemented the nursing staff to take care of dozens of ailing patients,” Olszyk said. “I can’t think of anybody who contributed more to our efforts to combat the pandemic than Judy.”

Stambaugh, who has also been nominated for the Daily Record’s Health Care Heroes Award in the category of COVID-19 Hero, said she was called to the nursing home on March 28, 2020.

“They were going to call ambos for every single patient and close the facility,” she said. “These were the very first nursing home cases in the county. My job was to stem the tide until the national guard came in. The whole place was contaminated. I trained the staff on correct PPE use. I literally knocked a phone out of someone’s hand because they were not cleaning it between patient and staff use.”

Stambaugh said the hospital sent a registered nurse for each building to be her eyes and ears while she moved between structures.

“It was a bad situation,” she recalled. “The medical director had no standing orders for any of the patients. I erased their white boards and put up new orders. We educated the staff, made phone calls, and I got oxygen delivered in the middle of the night, no easy task because it’s a HAZMAT.”

After completing her work at the nursing home, Stambaugh became a back-up provider in the critical care unit where she completed assessments, initiated orders and made family phone calls for end of life discussions because, overwhelmed with patients, it was difficult for others to find time to call and update families.

“I am very appreciative of the recognition and everyone that supported me throughout this year. Receiving this award means I was able to touch the lives of others and lessen their load as much as they did for me,” she said.

Lentz echoed the same.

“Many who work around me have heard me say, ‘It’s a team effort’ when a patient is thanking me. So, I want to extend my thanks to the hospital staff for all you do for the patients. It’s rarely easy, oftentimes unpleasant, but ultimately rewarding because you are helping people in their time of need. Receiving this award really validates my work as a surgeon, being part of Carroll Hospital and the Carroll community,” she said.

Both providers had advice to share.

“Do your best to heed the advice and warnings of experts in medicine and infectious disease when it comes to COVID,” Lentz said. “Do not fall victim to the hype and unfounded theories that circulate on social media. Think carefully and critically about stories in the news before reacting. The vaccine is safe but like everything in medicine, a few people will have a reaction, sometimes severe. The chances of this are similar to your chance of winning the lottery. Your chance of getting COVID and possibly dying from its complications are much, much higher.”

Stambaugh agreed with that advice, adding this.

“If your loved one is admitted to a critical care unit, my wish is that someone makes the family aware that this is not like on TV,” she said. “Your family member could die at any minute. Families are caught off guard so often. My second wish is for people to all get their families onboard to have end of life plans in order. We think it’s never going to happen, but it does, and it’s important.”

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