Across the globe, appreciation shown for health care workers and their efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic has been awe inspiring.
In Colorado, the wave of support is buoying caregivers as well.
“We have really felt the love from you guys,” said RN Daphne Huegerich, a nurse manager in the emergency room at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland.
“The social distancing that is occurring, we want to let you know it is helping, and we appreciate all of you… So, thank you for all that you are doing,” Huegerich said.
Support has come in the form of thank-you notes — nearly 2,000 and counting — to UCHealth’s employees. (Want to send thanks to health care workers? Click here.) We’ve also felt your quiet prayers and heard your thundering standing ovations and the volume of donations (Learn more about donating).
Most recently, 10 northern Colorado emergency services agencies lined up in emergency vehicles with lights flashing and paraded on the campus of Medical Center of the Rockies.
“For us, it is to show our appreciation for the hard work that the health care workers are putting in right now,” said Greg Ward, Operations Chief of the Loveland Fire Rescue Authority. “Hopefully, it put a little smile on their faces and let them know that we are behind them and doing everything we can to support them.”
Among those represented in the northern Colorado thank-you parade were Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, Berthoud Fire District, Greeley Fire Department, Front Range Fire Rescue, Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue, Thompson Valley EMS, Loveland Police Department, Johnstown Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, and Larimer County Sheriff’s Department.
Officials with the Poudre Fire Authority have been holding their own appreciation events. Almost daily since April 8, they have paraded outside UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital and other community hospitals to honor care workers.
“Standing alongside our partners in law enforcement, neighborhood services, EMS responders, and the community, we just wanted to say thank you to our health care partners who are giving their all to touch and save the lives of those infected with this terrible disease,” said Poudre Fire Authority Fire Chief Tom DeMint. “For our men and women, this is a small gesture of gratitude in recognition of their service.”
And then there are the Friday folks. Each Friday, a group of cars with their hazard lights flashing fill the visitor parking lot at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital. Many of the cars’ occupants pray; others hold signs of appreciation.
The show of gratitude started with a text message from Pat Marotta of Fort Collins to a few friends. She asked if they’d help her rally to show support for health care heroes and their fight against COVID-19. The word spread, and on the first Friday evening, about 40 vehicles arrived to show solidarity.
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There have been many more such acts witnessed at area hospitals. One of the most popular has been the chalk art filling sidewalks and pathways around hospitals. The messages offer hope, strength and support.
Before the stay-at-home orders were in place, a group of clowns danced with signs in front of the ER windows at Poudre Valley Hospital.
Maryann Fillingam, who normally manages volunteer services and the gift shop at UCHealth Greeley Hospital has now taken on the role of managing donations, which have been overwhelming at times.
She has also created a “thank you board” that holds written notes of support from the community. Staff see the board as they come and go from the hospital. Above the board, a banner reads: “You are rising to an unprecedented challenge. Thank You.”
“We want them to take a look at that banner every time they come to work and realize what rock stars they truly are,” Fillingam said.
The overnight shift employees at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies got a little hope to head home with recently after a local flower shop donated hundreds of bouquets.
“Staff was super appreciative,” said Martella Gillis with UCHealth, who helped hand out the flowers. “Although you couldn’t see it through their masks, they were smiling. It was a nice way to send them on their way.”
One nurse who works on the COVID-19 unit at Medical Center of the Rockies took several bouquets to the hospital floor so that all her coworkers could enjoy their beauty.
There are enormous donations, fundraisers and meals provided along the Front Range. In Colorado Springs, a clothing company donated leggings for staff to change into after their shifts. And in Denver, local establishments are delivering breakfast and other treats to thank the hospital staff. Other groups are raising funds online, using the money to support local restaurants by purchasing meals that they then donate to health care workers in need.
“We live in a wonderful place,” said Kevin Unger, President and CEO of UCHealth Northern Colorado Region, adding a message for the communities, “We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you, community, for all that you do.”