Health Care Heroes
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.
Teamwork has taken on a new meaning as these men and women have cared for humanity in an unprecedented manner.
“Every team member has stepped up in some capacity to meet this challenge head-on — from the physicians, nurses, techs, unit secretaries, and scribes to the environmental services workers who are really putting in extra effort,” says Karen Crevier, MD, medical director of the emergency department at IU Health West Hospital. “Our ICU and hospital colleagues have shown up in full force supporting the Emergency Department team and the patients in need. The solidarity is so inspiring.”
During this unique time in history, the public’s view of health care workers has shifted as society has become more aware of the specialty of emergency medicine.
“They now better understand that we are experts at resuscitation of the critically ill or injured patient,” Crevier says. “I have encountered more appreciation from patients for us being there for them in their time of need in the past few weeks. This aspect of our job really defines the Emergency Physician. It’s why we chose this specialty.”
There is no question that 2020 will be well remembered by all but particularly by those in the health care field, who witnessed, firsthand, what a pandemic looks like and how it can change protocol in an instant. Crevier says she’ll never forget the eye-opening moment when their ICU capacity kept jumping.
“We went from an 8-bed capacity to 16 beds to talking about potentially doubling — and then some — our ICU beds and what we needed to do after that,” Crevier says. “Planning to increase the emergency department’s capacity with additional care spaces to evaluate patients with COVID-19 is a vivid memory as well.”
Though uncertain times has the potential to breed fear, it also births courage, as evidenced by retired health care workers who have voluntarily chosen to return to the field to help in the crisis.
“During the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been amazed at how the health care team and local communities unite,” says Kapri Ames MSN, RN, NE-BC, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, IU Health West Hospital. “It’s encouraging and helpful to see folks who used to work in hospitals sign up to come back and help on the front lines. Additionally, the sweet support of the community has been heartwarming and truly does make a difference. We thank you.”
Crevier agrees. She is thankful for the random texts from friends, family and colleagues as well as uplifting messages written on various platforms that have served to heighten morale.
“The Emergency Medicine community is very close knit so we’re constantly receiving messages from across the country about how my colleagues have met the same challenges and the creative ways they’ve overcome them,” says Crevier, who was touched by the sign someone placed in front of IU Health West that says, “Heroes Work Here.”
For those who are considering entering the field of health care, Crevier maintains that one of the most important qualities to possess is flexibility.
“You’re going to have to be flexible,” she says. “Make sure you’re okay with that up front because you’ll be stretching yourself at all levels and may be asked to do things that aren’t comfortable. If you’re going into it for the right reasons and because there’s a need that you can and want to fill, you will be fine. Remember that everybody you interact with has their own challenges they are facing.”
As the staff at area hospitals work diligently to heal the sick, they greatly appreciate everything the community has done not only to lift their spirits but to help flatten the curve.
“Thank you to all the community for doing your part, completely altering your way of life and stepping up to the challenge of staying home,” Crevier says. “We know it’s not easy — kids at home, trying to work and live without going out and being apart from the ones we love. We appreciate it more than we can say.”
It’s all done for the greater good.
“Keep looking for the silver lining,” she says. “Our community is stronger together.”
When every day brings a new series of harrowing headlines, it can be easy to slip into sadness or flounder in fear. But I assure you, 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 health care heroes for what you do each day!