MERRIAM, Kan. — If you haven't thanked a health care worker in awhile, now is a great time to do it.
Many hospitals continue to struggle with high COVID-19 case counts as well as staffing shortages. Many workers are tired and could use a show of appreciation from the public.
At AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, hospital leaders are asking the public to send notes of encouragement to boost morale among staff.
Rennie McKinney, director of behavioral health at the hospital, said workers are stretched thin and are extremely exhausted but continue showing up every day with a positive attitude.
"You couple that with our current shortage of team members and then many out with Covid themselves, it has really taken a toll," McKinney said.
The hospital is asking the public to think back to a time a health care worker helped them and take a moment to say thanks.
The notes of encouragement can be handwritten letters mailed in to the hospital, shout outs on social media or kind emails. The hospital also has a site for members of the community to buy a team member a cup of coffee.
It may not seem like much, but McKinney said it just might make a health care worker's day.
"When I think about gratitude it is the little things that truly do make a big difference," McKinney said.
At the start of the pandemic, the hospital created a well-being program to help support staff. They are able to speak with a licensed social worker about the struggles they face, such as anxiety or trouble sleeping.
"They have utilized that, we have actually had some overflows so we have had to tap in to some other resources in order to meet the need of those team members who are really struggling," McKinney said.
The hospital's call on the community is already being answered by the Church of the Resurrection. The church sent thousands of cups of coffee to AdventHealth workers.
"Our health care workers are critical for all of us, and we have a chance to make a difference for them to show that we care," Rev. Adam Hamilton said.
Hamilton said when he asked his congregation to chip in, they showed up in a big way and bought thousands of cups of coffee to show their gratitude.
"It's been really awesome, it's been invigorating and to feel like you have a chance to encourage somebody who is walking through a hard time right now," Hamilton said.
The kind gesture turned into a ripple effect. AdventHealth in turn sent coffee to Olathe Health, which then paid it forward to Children's Mercy.
No matter how you do it, Hamilton hopes everyone will take a little time out of their day to help out the people who help so many others.
"Take balloons or cookies or do something to help someone else because our healthcare workers need that right now, and it's going to bless you as you do it," Hamilton said.
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