May 6 is National Nurses Day
Over the past year, the pandemic has been a struggle for many Americans. It has perhaps been the hardest on our dedicated healthcare workers. They’ve had to deal with long hours away from loved ones, extremely sick patients, and full ICUs. They have held phones to the ears of the dying so they could say their last goodbyes to their families, at a time where hospital visitation was not allowed. They have done things they never imagined doing and probably did not think they had the strength to do. But they did it all, and they persevered – they are our Healthcare Heroes.
May 6 is National Nurses Day, and May 9 - 15 is National Hospital Week. How can we thank these wonderful people who give so much of themselves? Believe it or not, it doesn’t take much to show our Healthcare Heroes how much we appreciate them. Below are some ideas that are not difficult to implement and offer a range in cost for any size budget:
Thank them in the moment: It is special and gratifying to be thanked right then for the work you are doing. Just an “I appreciate how well you’ve taken care of me” or a “you’re so great at your job” can make a healthcare worker’s day. Telling the nutrition staff “I appreciate this meal” means a lot to them. And these words spoken to the custodial staff “thanks for being here and keeping the spaces clean” is something they don’t often hear. A few words can go a long way.
Write a note or send a card: Everyone loves a handwritten thank you for a job well done, and card writing is somewhat of a lost art. Because healthcare workers so often work with people on a short-term basis, follow-up can be challenging. Taking this small step to thank the worker who was so good to you is a big boost to their day. You can send your card to just a first name, care of the department where they work. They can get it to the worker who made your stay or visit better.
Everyone loves food: Healthcare workers value and appreciate food! You can arrange for delivery of pizza, a sub platter, a cookie basket, or donuts. There are so many other great ideas; talk with your local restaurants about what delivery options they have. With the current Covid precautions, it is best to send food from an outside vendor rather than cooking it yourself. The early morning and night shifts are particularly appreciative as they are sometimes forgotten in favor of lunch. Restaurant gift cards are also a good option, and the staff can order lunch in.
Notice the little things: A pregnant healthcare worker once received a gift for her baby-to-be and said that the gesture meant a lot to her and her family. Another said she mentioned that she loves Skittles and the next day, the patient’s family brought a bag of skittles for her. These little gestures mean more than many realize. It may seem like you’re not doing enough, but please banish that thought. It is often the small gestures that mean the most.
Don’t forget the support staff: While the faces one usually sees at healthcare facilities are the lab techs, doctors, and nurses, it takes many more people to make it run efficiently. Some departments that have workers who are less recognized include nutrition services, custodial, transportation, security, and the front desk. Every person who works in health care, no matter the role, plays an important part in ensuring that healthcare facilities run smoothly and that the patient experience is the best it can be.
Give gifts of self-care: Self-care gifts are fantastic for people who work in a healthcare setting. Things like gel pads and heat-and-cold therapy pillows can relieve fatigued, sore, and tight muscles and joints. Hand lotion, bath salts, portable hand sanitizers, and massage balls are also wonderful gifts that will help healthcare workers relax. If you really want to splurge on your favorite worker, a massage or nail care gift certificate is a wonderful choice.
Whatever way you choose to thank the healthcare workers who have impacted you, know that it will be loved and appreciated by them. Taking five minutes out of your day to put a card in the mail is something quick and easy but has a long-term impact and touches these workers greatly. Here at UNC Lenoir Health Care, we want to personally thank all of our Healthcare Heroes who enable us to provide safe, quality care 365 days a year. Your sacrifices for the greater good of the community do not go unnoticed. We appreciate you today and every day.