Saluting Local Health Care Workers on the Frontlines Fighting COVID-19
Remember the days when the notion of shaking hands with a rock-n-roll star or rubbing elbows with an NBA player made your heart aflutter? Remember the way your children watched superhero movies with their eyes wide and their mouths agape as they sat, mesmerized, at the notion of being able to fly, deflect bullets and neutralize the bad guys? Remember the times you had a random encounter with an A-list Hollywood actress at an airport or a legendary musician while vacationing in an exotic location? We remember such encounters because we, as a society, have elevated Hollywood superstars, sports icons, music legends and fictitious comic book characters as heroes in our minds.
It wasn’t until this spring when an insidious, highly contagious disease swiftly and jarringly upended our routines, our lives, our families and our world that our definition of “hero” was sharply redefined. Suddenly we looked to doctors, nurses, hospital staff, first responders and emergency personnel with fresh eyes of gratitude and a renewed sense of awe as we recognized the grand and personal sacrifices they were making, daily, for the sake of their communities.
We are grateful to our hometown heroes in a way that perhaps we never have been in our lifetime because we know the blood, sweat and tears that these men and women have shed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept through our country, leaving confusion, uncertainly, and blind fear in its wake. As schools, churches, restaurants, hair salons, gyms, movie theaters, shopping malls and other businesses shut down, those on the frontlines never stopped working. In fact, many put in overtime, both physically and mentally, to ensure the safety of their fellow man.
This strange and surreal experience has brought many lessons, the greatest of which is that we have heroes living among us. And for that, we are all eternally grateful. Therefore, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank these beautiful people for their ceaseless sacrifice, unwavering commitment to serve and boundless love of humankind.
Donetta Gee-Weiler, RN, MBA-MSN, Hospital Administrator and Chief Nursing Officer for Community Heart and Vascular Hospital has worked for Community Health Network for 25 years and says she’s always known it was a special place. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that point as teamwork has taken on a new meaning.
“Caregivers are moving from areas that are no longer open to help support areas of greater need,” she says. “This means learning new roles, moving to a new site of care and even changing shifts. During such a time of uncertainty, our team is adjusting to make sure we continue to deliver the best possible care to those in need.”
Nevertheless, this is the field these men and women have chosen, and they feel driven to step up and care for humanity just as they always have.
“I view the role of the caregiver as something that cannot be replaced,” says Gee-Weiler, noting that they are welcomed into their patients’ lives during the best moments (e.g., the birth of a baby, cure from disease) and worst moments (e.g., terminal diagnosis, loss of a loved one).
“We are part of the family’s story as these memories are some they carry with them for the remainder of their life,” Gee-Weiler adds. “Now I think the community is finally seeing just how much these moments also mean to us. We are showing that health care is truly a career of passion to help others, regardless of the need.”
Dr. William Harvey, pulmonary critical care specialist and medical director of the intensive care unit (ICU) at IU Health North Hospital, has been practicing critical care medicine for two decades. As medical director of the ICU, he provides calm reassurance to the nursing staff and communicates with administration to ask for and receive the necessary resources to treat patients.
“Although there is more stress and longer hours than usual, I feel very blessed that I have been trained to do this job and that I have an opportunity to help the citizens of Hamilton County,” says Dr. Harvey, who is thankful to the Hamilton County residents for their sacrifices. “We will get through this time. It will not last forever. Fortunately, at IU Health we have the resources, the manpower and the will to respond to this crisis and ultimately defeat the virus.”
Just as the community appreciates our hometown heroes, they, too, appreciate the love and support they have received in return.
“We have seen the community show up in so many ways by sending loving messages via social media, donating meals to feed our busy teams and planning large drive-by parades to show support,” Gee-Weiler says. “This is such a difficult time in health care, but it will pass. In the end, my hope is that the community continues to remember how important the caregivers are and that we keep an even stronger bond we have built with one another.”
When every day brings a new series of harrowing headlines, it can be easy to slip into sadness or flounder in fear. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel thanks to this army of men and women as they are the heartbeat of hope that now, always has, and always will work tirelessly to relieve pain, save lives and restore health. These individuals dedicate their lives to helping us, as a society, live our best lives. Because, as the saying goes, “When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters.”
Thank you to all our local health care heroes for what you do each day!