Home Health care provider Take time to thank healthcare workers during the COVID pandemic

Take time to thank healthcare workers during the COVID pandemic

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In the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world participated in the nightly celebrations of healthcare workers. Standing on their steps, porches and balconies, they clapped, clapped, and banged on pots and pans. They hailed healthcare workers as heroes for putting their own health at risk to take care of others.

Over the months, it was no surprise that the celebrations faded away. Unfortunately, however, the grueling work continued for healthcare workers. After a difficult winter, the delta variant brought a new wave of patients, including children. In the past three months, the number of COVID-19 patients at Ascension Via Christi and Wesley Medical Center has reached critical levels.

This tension, compounded by staff shortages, has been difficult for healthcare workers here and nationally to bear. A recent survey of nurses in California found that nearly 13% quit their jobs because of “moral distress” suffered during the pandemic, and 15% said they had suicidal thoughts in the previous month.

What can we do to support those who have sacrificed so much to care for our community? The best thing you can do is get vaccinated – both for COVID-19 and for the flu. More than anything else, this will help reduce the number of patients in hospitals and intensive care units, alleviating some of the burden of overworked staff. It’s also important to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s protocols on masks, social distancing, and quarantines.

But don’t overlook just telling healthcare workers that you appreciate them. It makes a big difference in boosting morale.

If you know a nurse, doctor, or other healthcare worker, take the time to thank them for everything they do. This includes those who do not work in hospitals, such as school nurses, home helpers or orderlies and first responders. Many of them are also treating COVID patients or have faced increased pressures from the pandemic.

I was heartened to hear about the recent service celebrating healthcare workers at the Sorrowful Mother Chapel, located on the Ascension campus in Via Christi St. Francis. Annual service has been particularly meaningful this year given all that these workers have gone through. Other places of worship could provide for similar recognitions.

Groups – businesses, civic clubs, Sunday school classes, etc. – could consider providing a meal for those working in the Via Christi and Wesley COVID units (around 150 in total each day). The Sedgwick County Medical Society did this recently and included a note of appreciation.

There might be other ways to share appreciation as well, including thank you cards, social media posts, donating blood, or paying for someone’s coffee as a scrub at Starbucks.

Almost everyone enters the health profession to serve others. They consider it a call and a great honor to help those in need. But sometimes, caregivers might also need care and support.

Stephen J. Grindel is a family physician and president of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County.