Health-care workers outside Nanaimo Regional General Hospital are thanked during a car cruise last year. (News Bulletin file photo)

Health-care workers outside Nanaimo Regional General Hospital are thanked during a car cruise last year. (News Bulletin file photo)

OPINION: This Thanksgiving, let’s thank health-care workers

Island Health launches website encouraging people to leave messages of appreciation

BY LEAH HOLLINS

The COVID-19 pandemic is in its 19th month and we are well into the fourth wave of this virus. It has also been more than five years since B.C. declared the toxic drug emergency, meaning our health-care teams have been battling concurrent public health emergencies for a very long time.

Across Island Health, COVID-19 cases have recently reached their highest levels and we continue to see people – overwhelmingly those who are unvaccinated – requiring hospitalization and critical care. Tragically the number of people dying continues to increase. The toll these public health emergencies have on our society and our health-care system is significant.

The core of any health-care system is its people. All health-care workers – from the nurses and physicians in our hospitals and community settings, to food service workers, laboratory assistants, testing and contact tracing teams, and the many, many others – are integral to our health-care system and our pandemic response. Like us, they are all human. They are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, grandchildren, grandmothers and grandfathers. They have families who worry about them, and they worry about their families. They worry about this virus and its potential impacts on those they love. Despite this, they come to work to take care of us and our families. For this, I am grateful.

This Thanksgiving, on behalf of the Island Health board of directors, I am thanking all the people who make our health-care system work and who have been and continue to be there for everyone who needs comfort and care. Thank you for everything you do and everything you give, each and every day. Without your dedication, passion, sacrifice, and caring we would not be able to support our patients, clients, residents and their families in their time of need.

The dual public health emergencies of the toxic drug crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic are exhausting for everyone in society. Everyone is tired, especially our health-care teams. I am so proud of the many teams across Island Health who show up and care for people in the midst of the greatest challenge of their lives.

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As we look toward Thanksgiving, I encourage you to take a moment to pause and thank health-care workers who live in your community. There are many things you can do to thank them for their efforts. Of course, the most important action you can take to support our health-care workers is to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you haven’t already. If you are unsure or have questions, contact a health professional or visit our website at www.islandhealth.ca to learn more.

Gratitude is powerful, we saw it early on in the spring of 2020 when people spontaneously banged pots and pans. We continue to see it today though posters and messages of thanks that people leave outside our health-care sites. And anyone can now send a personal message of thanks directly to our teams at Island Health through an e-mail at thanks@islandhealth.ca, or on our website at www.islandhealth.ca/thanks.

These messages mean a lot to the people working long days and nights to care for those we have the privilege to serve. This Thanksgiving, take a minute to let health-care workers know how much you appreciate what they do – whether in your own community, through an e-mail or our website. Let them know how much they mean to you and how much you care.

Leah Hollins is chairperson of Island Health’s board of directors.

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