Greatest Gift to Healthcare Workers: Help Curtail COVID Spread
February 21, 2022 by Keely Knopp
After nearly two years of life within the confines of a global pandemic, I constantly find myself in awe of human resilience. For health care workers everywhere, it’s been a marathon — each day, fighting the same battle, with new and unpredictable twists. Yet through all the ups and downs, they show up. They carry on with compassion.
Make no mistake: Here at Mercy Urgent Care, our patients are not on ventilators. We’re neither an emergency room nor an overflowing ICU. Our role, as an urgent care organization, is to funnel patients with non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses away from the ER, freeing up hospital staff and resources for true emergencies, and to provide assistance when primary care isn’t available. Though we may be just one piece of the community’s health care fabric, each thread plays an important role in holding the structure together.
But the pandemic disrupted the system. When outbreak surges hit our community, it puts immense strain on health care workers across the spectrum — from hospitals to urgent care, primary care to public health organizations. The entire sector is put under more weight than it was designed to hold. There have been times, especially during these surges, that it’s felt impossible to care for everyone arriving at our doors, and I know we’re not alone.
I’ve seen firsthand the weight of this pandemic on our front line workers. Once widely celebrated as heroes, they watched that sentiment wane over time. They watched people move on.
Now, multiple years into the pandemic, health care workers are still picking up the pieces of a drastically changed world. They are tired, but they’re still here for the community. And they still need our support — perhaps now more than ever. The question is: How do you thank someone when “thank you” doesn’t seem like enough?
In all honesty, when surges do occur, what health care workers need is some of the burden lifted — and, to do so, they desperately need your help. For the last two years, the health of our community has relied on the choices its members make, and every individual has an opportunity to make a difference. At times when case numbers are on the rise, doing your part to curtail the spread of COVID-19 is the greatest “thank you” that you could possibly give to health care workers on the front lines. Help us reduce strain on the system, so that we’re all better able to provide you with the care you need, when you need it.
Mercy Urgent Care has a long history of caring for the people of Western North Carolina, and I can’t help but see a parallel between our 122-year history and the pandemic today. First arriving in Asheville during the tuberculosis epidemic of 1900, the Sisters of Mercy opened an 18-bed sanatorium on French Broad Avenue — the first iteration of St. Joseph’s Hospital — to serve the community in a time of crisis. Guided by the core principles of sacredness of life, human dignity, mercy, justice, excellence and service, they provided compassionate care to those most in need.
While much has changed in the century that’s passed since our humble beginnings, these foundational values still live on in Mercy Urgent Care today — and that’s never been more apparent as I’ve watched the pandemic unfold. For two years, I’ve witnessed the resilience of health care workers in a way that I’ve never experienced before. I’ve watched different health care organizations collaborate, for the benefit of the community, on an unprecedented level. Through all the hardships this pandemic continues to bring, I still find myself inspired by all the good that I’ve seen.
If the last two years have shown us anything, it’s that the strength and connectedness of our community makes us capable of great things — even when we’re physically apart. To all health care workers across Western North Carolina, at Mercy and beyond: Thank you. We stand behind you, united. We’re stronger together.
Rachel Sossoman is the president and CEO of Mercy Urgent Care, a nonprofit health care organization based in Western North Carolina. With a mission to provide high-quality, affordable and convenient medical services to all, Mercy Urgent Care treats patients with non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses from its eight urgent care centers across the region, with three locations in Asheville and one each in Brevard, Burnsville, Columbus, Waynesville and Weaverville.