CHESTERTOWN — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, University of Maryland Medical System, UM Shore Regional Health and others are taking time this week to celebrate the health care workers on the front lines.
National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week are recognized annually in May. This year UMMS and UM Shore Regional Health has combined the observances to celebrate May 10-16 as Health Care Heroes Week, according to a news release.
Health Care Heroes Week is about honoring the entire workforce that has come together as a united team to meet the needs of the communities the two systems serve, the release states.
Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of UMMS, said Health Care Heroes Week commemorates the tremendous work of the system's 28,000 staff members.
“This collective celebration honors our entire team of staff members, who have come together, regardless of their role or location, to offer unrivaled patient care and extraordinary support to each other at this most critical time,” Suntha said in a statement. “This all-inclusive recognition, which spans the second week in May — the time usually dedicated to Hospital Week, which includes Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday on May 12 — is a fitting time to recognize our team in its entirety, for the sacrifices they’ve made, together, to stand on the front lines of care throughout the pandemic.”
Ken Kozel, UM Shore Regional Health's president and CEO, joined in praising the health team members at UM Shore Medical centers at Chestertown, Dorchester and Easton, as well as affiliated outpatient facilities.He said UM Shore Regional Health is extending the observance through the entire month.
“Our nurses and the equally dedicated team of caregivers and support staff who work alongside them to save and change lives, have faced unique and complex challenges. Throughout it all, they stand ready, offering critically needed care that is safe, compassionate and unwavering,” Kozel said.
According to the release, the UMMS Health Care Heroes Week includes gifts of appreciation for staff members, internal and public messages of thanks and special celebratory activities at each location.
In a guest commentary sent to the Kent County News, UM Shore Regional Health board chairman Keith McMahan wrote about having "had the privilege of witnessing the amazing dedication, professionalism, creativity and teamwork" of the system's workforce during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"For frontline workers and also those behind the scenes, each day brings new demands and parameters in providing safe, effective care to both COVID and non-COVID patients. There is no 'business as usual' in our hospitals, and in most areas, these essential workers assume some degree of personal risk — and in many cases, greater stress and fatigue," he wrote.
McMahan wrote about those community members lost to COVID-19 and how that affects families and loved ones, but the front-line workers at UM Shore Regional Health as well.
He wrote that every patient who has recovered and gone home healthy is cause for celebration.
"For now, each of us can support the health care heroes who made those recoveries possible by following guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 — wearing our masks, washing our hands and maintaining our 'social distance' as long as needed," McMahan wrote.
Joining in the celebration of local health care heroes, the Downtown Chestertown Association and Main Street Historic Chestertown have partnered on a fundraiser for the Chester River Health Foundation, which in turn supports UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.
The two business organizations have "Thank you" signs celebrating hospital staff, first responders and essential workers, according to a news release.
The signs are available for a $20 donation. They can be picked up between 9 a.m. and noon Saturdays outside Chestertown town hall, 118 N. Cross, St., or have have them delivered to any Kent County residence or business for an additional $2.
"Proceeds will go to the Chester River Health Foundation’s COVID-19 Fund to help cover expenses such as protective gear and support services for medical staff and employees at the hospital in Chestertown," the release states.
With a design was donated by Locust Grove Studios, the Downtown Chestertown Association is covering the cost of the signs that are being produced by Riverside Unique.