With the number of people in the United States that have become critically ill as a result of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus currently reaching into the hundreds of thousands, hospital staff and healthcare workers in communities across the country have been stretched to the limit. As of April 9th, a date that already seems far off, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that alone, more than 9,000 nurses had contracted the coronavirus and 27 had died. At the time, at least 50% of nurses infected believed they had caught the virus while providing care to patients with COVID-19.
Combine the fear for personal safety that accompanies treating those who have developed COVID-19, with the innate desire healthcare workers have to provide patients the best possible care, with the moments of elation when a patient recovers, and with the feelings of guilt and despair that may arise following the loss of a patient to COVID-19, and you have a potent mixture of conflicting emotions that can lead to mental health issues. Adam Peronto, exercise physiologist at Door County Medical Center remarks, “Hospital workers are on the frontlines of this pandemic. They’re battling COVID-19 everyday, but they’re also battling stress and exhaustion too. They’re going through a lot, and it’s really taxing to be on the frontlines like that every day.”
Helping Our Heroes at Door County Medical Center
With these thoughts in mind, Adam helped create the Help Our Heroes project, which aims to provide support to the workers—nurses, doctors and support staff—at DCMC. “We wanted to establish something that would show our hospital and healthcare workers how much we appreciate everything they’re doing—thanking them for all of their great work. That’s why Help Our Heroes was born,” Adam says, adding, “With Help our Heroes, we track down items and gifts that we can give to our employees to show our appreciation.” In the beginning of May, during National Nurses Week, Help Our Heroes held a Nurses Appreciation Day, and provided all DCMC nurses with free coffee. On Skilled Nursing Appreciation Day, nurses at the hospital’s skilled nursing facility received free meals at Scaturo’s Baking Co, and Cafe in Sturgeon Bay.
“We’re receiving a lot of gift card donations cards for local businesses, as well as snacks for the staff—for instance, granola bars, nuts, and juice,” Adam remarks. “But,” he adds, “it’s not just about tracking down gifts. It’s also about trying to improve employee morale by doing different fun events. So far, we’ve had a dog parade, where employees brought their dogs to the hospital and walked them around the nursing home to say ‘hi’ to the residents. Those residents have been isolated during the safer-at-home order…and really, who doesn’t like seeing a dog? Also, local florist Doors Fleurs donated several dozen roses to the hospital and Brian Stephens, President and CEO of DCMC, and other leaders, spent a day handing out flowers to the hospital staff.” Perhaps one of the greatest donations has come in the form of thank you cards from Door County’s elementary schools. “I’ve received over 300 cards from the kids so far,” Adam says, “It’s a big morale boost for the day.”
For more information on the Help Our Heroes project please visit: https://www.dcmedical.org/coronavirus/help-our-heroes. Door County Medical center is currently taking donations for Help Our Heroes. Accepted donations include: gift cards, which support local restaurants and businesses; snacks; and thank you cards—especially those that show your artistic ability! To donate, please email Adam Peronto at email@example.com, or call (920) 746-3641.