At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our country faced unprecedented scenarios – shortages of cleaning supplies and toilet paper, shelter-in-place orders, and limited space in hospitals. When times were hard for our frontline workers, the public responded with messages of gratitude. From local community groups to Hollywood stars, there was an outpouring of support for medical staffs’ efforts across the country. Lawn signs and white ribbons dotted neighborhoods. Everyone did what they could to make sure hospital workers knew they were appreciated.
But this pandemic is far from over. While the nation continues the vaccine roll out, COVID-19 cases are still high -- especially in Michigan -- and it will take time for it to start to reduce the spread. As the hospital staff continues to support patients, both with COVID-19 and those needing care for other conditions, now is the time to do what we can to help lift healthcare workers' spirits and express our ongoing thanks.
We talked to frontline healthcare workers to get some ideas of how you can show your support:
- Get vaccinated. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best thing you can do to support healthcare heroes. Not vaccinated yet? Learn why getting the vaccine is so important.
- Follow CDC guidelines and state protocols. Do your part to keep the pandemic under control and reduce spread of the virus. Wear a mask, and continue to practice social distancing and hand hygiene. If you are exposed to the virus, make sure you are quarantining properly and get tested if needed.
- Share a quick thank you. A little goes a long way! Simply telling a healthcare worker how much they are appreciated is sure to brighten their day. It can be as simple as sending a text or mailing a card.
- Be understanding. Many healthcare workers are busy, taking on extra work, and dealing with more stress than normal. If a friend or family member is in this situation, be mindful of what they are going through and make sure you aren’t asking too much of them. For example, if you reach out and don’t receive a text back right away, offer that person some grace. Sometimes, the best thing you can give them is some space.
- Avoid making them an outlet for your own COVID fear and anxiety. There are many questions and concerns that come up surrounding the virus, and now questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. The healthcare workers that you know are seeing these things firsthand and also have their own worries about the virus. Instead of overloading them with your concerns, look for other reliable resources to get your answers. While it is good to talk about anxiety, a healthcare worker you know might not be your best option, depending on your relationship with them. If you’re unsure, ask them “Is it Ok if I ask you a question?” before launching into it. Also, try to reciprocate. If they need to vent or talk, make sure they know you are there for them too.
- Deliver food to healthcare workers and their families. After a long shift, the last thing anyone wants to do is sort out what to cook for dinner. Take some of that pressure off by offering to pick up carryout for them or dropping off a home-cooked meal.
- Give a gift. Think of small things that would put a smile on a healthcare worker’s face or make their day better. Maybe buy them a coffee or send some self-care products in the mail to help them relax.
- Support charities and organizations that raise money for COVID-19 initiatives. Every little bit helps. Looks for organizations that donate to COVID relief funds. These donations go toward providing healthcare workers with appropriate PPE and equipment as well as providing direct support to families that might be struggling.
- Ask how you can help. Everyone’s needs are different. If you're not sure how you can support a healthcare worker you know – be it running errands or helping with household chores – the best way to find out is to ask.
Whether you are a healthcare worker or not, it is still important to prioritize your health – both physical and mental. Use this list as a guide to help you cope:
- Keep up proper handwashing techniques. Washing hands is one of your best defenses for preventing the spread of germs.
- Avoid going out, if you can. Instead of going into stores for personal needs or groceries, look into delivery or curbside pick-up options. Even pharmacies now offer delivery on prescriptions.
- Practice self-care. It can be easy to forget our own needs when you’re taking care of others. Make sure to take care of yourself too – take a hot shower or relaxing bath, eat healthy and comforting foods, de-stress with yoga or a long walk, and call a friend and family member who brings you joy and helps you recharge.
- Prioritize your mental health. These are stressful times, and it’s natural to feel sad or down at times. If you notice a decline in your mood and overall well-being or you have increased anxiety and difficulty functioning in your day-to-day routine, consider talking to your doctor or a therapist. Virtual visits may be a convenient option.
- Breathe. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, practice deep breathing to help you relax. We’re going to get through this.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, use our online screening tool to determine your next steps. For more information on ways to get care at Henry Ford and our response to COVID-19, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.