Salute to Health Care Providers

It is hard to believe it has already been over a year since the corona virus hit the western shores of the United States. It seems more like a forever nightmare. The toll has been shockingly devastating, and some say the worst months may still be ahead of us. I won’t venture into statistics at this point because you know them, and they change by the tens of thousands every day. It is certain by now that you know of someone who has contracted COVID-19, and it is likely that you know of someone who has succumbed to it. My heart goes out to them and to you.

Having been in health care for over 40 years, I have heard the testimony of former colleagues who are worn to their very soul. I know health care executives who have had to make wrenching decisions about cutting certain support staff while, at the same time, worrying about how to get more nurses and doctors to care for the crush of patients coming into their ERs, COVID units and ICUs.

I know physicians who, in some parts of the country, are having to make ethically agonizing decisions about who to save and who to let die based on their prognoses.

I know nurses and respiratory therapists, who are working consecutive 24-hour shifts worrying that their weariness will result in critical errors, and are surrogates for families to witness the passing of loved ones.

I know social workers and chaplains who are alongside these same beleaguered families who pray, wonder, and wait.

All of them need earnest listening ears to grieve with them. They need gentle voices to encourage them, and empower them to begin the next shift, receive the next patient, or maybe take a quiet break from the mayhem.

So, when you run into a first-responder or heath care provider, put your hand on your heart, thank them, and say a silent prayer. They will remember.

John VanderZee, DMin

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