Angels within us give healthcare heroes a boost

“We’re gonna take care of one another and get through this.” Sweet treats, notes of support and caring gestures help nurses, physicians, techs and everyone on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist,

In a time of deep distress within our homes and hospitals, it’s easy to let fear rule our thoughts. But these are also the times when our better angels come out to provide comfort and care.

If the COVID-19 public health crisis has exposed weaknesses in some institutions of government, it has revealed the strength and spirit of our communities, our healthcare heroes and the nation as a whole.

That strength has played out within IU Health as team members rally to provide lifesaving medical care in the face of a virus that threatens our physical and mental well-being.

We want to share with you stories of good – displays of kindness and compassion extended to our teams on the front lines by patients, businesses and fellow team members. Following are just a few:

A giant sign installed with permission over the weekend greets team members and patients at IU Health West Hospital. The colorful sign, erected free as a gesture of appreciation by a Brownsburg yard sign owner, reads simply “Heroes Work Here.”

On a smaller scale, but no less important, Allison Foltz, a nurse in the emergency department at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, shared a note she received from a teenage cancer patient who came into the hospital recently suffering from fever.

“She talked about how she knew when she was starting to feel a fever coming on, that she would probably have to come to the hospital and wanted to do something to thank everyone in the ED for all of our hard work right now,” Foltz said.

“She made a card thanking the staff and was just overall very appreciative and uplifting. It was definitely a small act of kindness that made a big difference.”

The note reads in part: “Thank you all for doing what you do. I understand how stressful your jobs can be, especially right now. We appreciate how hard you all are working!”

Foltz said she planned to post that card in the ED for all to see as a reminder of the sometimes unspoken appreciation patients and their families have for hospital staff.

Meanwhile, over at IU Health Methodist Hospital, the ED team was treated to macarons from the Macaron Bar on Mass Ave. in Downtown Indianapolis last Wednesday.

Nurse practitioner Bridget Thorne tweeted out photos and a thank-you: “Huge thanks to Macaron Bar Indianapolis for donating macarons to our Methodist ED staff today! Thanks for supporting our frontline workers!

In another “sweet moment,” Riley PICU nurse Kelsi Lawless brought in decorated cake pops courtesy of local baker Stephanie Stucky.

“Small and big things. It all counts, so very much,” Lawless said, adding that Stucky donated the pops, decorated with images of scrubs, heroes, Riley, face masks, toilet paper … you get the idea.

“The Riley PICU wants to thank you for spreading sweetness during a time where it’s very much needed,” Lawless posted on Facebook, tagging Stucky. “Your kind heart and talent is much appreciated, and we will be sure to share the love with all the wonderful people here!”

Lawless finished her post with this quote adapted from Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are (and with a 6-foot minimum distance).” 💚

Vern Farnum, director of spiritual care and chaplaincy for the IU Health Academic Healthcare Center, shared an interaction he witnessed last week that touched his heart.

“An ICU staff nurse went into her manager’s office and told her she was going down to buy her a cup of coffee. She said to the manager, ‘All I need to know is what type of coffee do you want.’ She then turned and said, ‘You’ve got our backs, and we have yours. We’re gonna take care of one another and get through this.’ When I looked back at the manager, her eyes were filled with tears.”

And this from Uptown Café in Indianapolis:

“Thank you to all the healthcare heroes who are tirelessly answering the call to help the sick … And a special thanks to the IU Health Methodist Hospital nurses pictured here. We appreciate you more than you know! Hope you enjoyed the cinnamon rolls baked especially for you.”

Kelly Sego, program manager for corporate communications at IU Health, shared a note received on St. Patrick’s Day, printed on notebook paper and decorated with a shamrock: “Dear Riley Staff, thank you for all you are doing during this stressful time.” It was signed simply, Lauren.

We’ll have more examples of people reaching out to support our healthcare heroes, including a tea party for Riley social workers, in the days ahead. For now, here’s one way Riley palliative care physician Adam Hill and his team are dealing with stress:

“We just had an end of the day ‘80s dance party in our office,” Dr. Hill tweeted last week. “That’s how you fight healthcare distress and provide team self-care.”