Outpouring of community support helps keep health care workers’ spirits up

Health care workers at UnityPoint Health have always focused on showing patients how much they matter to this world. Now, as they serve on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis, the community is returning the favor.

“If you are leaving, thank you for what you just did,” reads a colorful chalk message aimed at medical professionals exiting Iowa Methodist Medical Center after long hospital shifts.

Together with national efforts to send homemade masks to hospitals, Iowa volunteers using 3D printers to create face shields, multiple hotels offering free rooms to medical professionals, and people across the country cheering for medical workers at coordinated times, the message is clear: both locally and across the U.S., the greater public is acutely aware and appreciative of everything health care workers are doing to keep people surviving and thriving.

This moment of solidarity is an uplifting reminder that Americans are all in this together. Community support helps keep health care workers going at a time when they’re pushing themselves to the limits to support the greater good.

“We know our community is behind us, we feel it every day. From donating homemade masks, to simply asking, how can I help? We feel love from our community, every step of the way,” said Janell Smith, ICU nurse manager.

Such support also acknowledges that health care workers are real people making real sacrifices. Providers, physicians, nurses and clinicians — they’re more than just anonymous masked heroes. Behind those masks, they are mothers, fathers, friends and neighbors with families and loved ones of their own.

Often, they’re putting their own lives second so they can put their patients first. As the rest of the world does its part by staying home, health care workers are doing their part by showing up day after day, no matter how difficult things get.

“Our front-line team members are real people making real sacrifices, and messages of support remind them that those sacrifices are incredibly meaningful,” said Dr. Mark Purtle, Chief Medical Officer of UnityPoint Health – Des Moines. “That’s true every single day but especially during an unprecedented challenge like this. Reminders of appreciation can help our teams find the strength and sense of purpose they need to carry on, and we are grateful for every kind message and thoughtful action from our community.”

In addition to support from the community at large, UnityPoint Health as an employer, is extremely supportive of its team members and proud of their amazing efforts across the board. In these circumstances, the company’s brand promise — “Know how much you matter to this world” — applies just as much to its dedicated health care workers as it does to each and every one of its valued patients.

“This pandemic is an event that will forever change health care,” said Kevin Vermeer, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health. “It’s also an opportunity for us to show up so we can provide the best possible care to those we serve. I am continually humbled by the commitment of our team members to our organization, to each other, and to our communities. I want people to know they can count on us to be here when we’re needed most.”

In response, UnityPoint Health team members are sharing positive messages of their own. Between caring for patients, some found time to decorate public-facing windows with inspiring designs, such as hearts exploding from syringes, and slogans like “Amazing people work here!” and “Beast mode.”

The messages read almost as promises. “We’ve got this,” they seem to be saying to anyone looking. “We’re here for you.”

They’re also building each other up as colleagues, helping to keep spirits high. Break rooms showcase inspirational quotes, such as, “You grow through what you go through” and “Tough times don’t last; tough teams do.” They are all aware that this time is an important moment for health care workers across the country, and one that will give them a badge of honor to carry with them for years to come.

“We will stay focused, no matter the challenge placed in front of us; making a difference at the bedside and ensuring our patients feel they matter,” said Smith.

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