Frontline health care workers grateful for community support during COVID-19 pandemic

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Working in a hospital in the middle of a pandemic takes a toll, but health care workers say community support is helping them get through the stress.

“It is exhausting –  emotionally, physically, just exhausting,” explained Jennifer Sollami, the nurse manager in the Emergency Department of  UNC Rex Hospital.  

She explained that some people who work in the emergency department aren’t even staying with their families right now because they’re worried about the possibility of exposing them to the coronavirus.

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“Not seeing your family,  sleeping in separate bedrooms — things like that can be very stressful,” she said, adding, “Just being with patients at a time when we haven’t had visitors, so we try to take on that role of the family and comforters and that is also just an emotional toll on us.”

During the most difficult moments, nurses and doctors need only to look around to see how much they mean to their community. 

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Sollami says the staff at Rex has received everything from meals, to masks, to handwritten “thank you” cards — enough to fill up the walls. 

“I just want to say thank you,” Sollami said, with tears in her eyes.

Across the country and here in the Triangle, people are showing their gratitude to health care workers with gestures big and small. There have been law enforcement parades and military flyovers.

At WakeMed, there are notes,  pictures, and flowers.  At Duke Raleigh, local artist Lisa Gaither drew a cape to make doctors and nurses look like the superheroes they are.

Health care workers want nothing more than to win the battle against COVID-19.

“We are having people getting discharged now and they are some of our first COVID patients, and to see them walk out or be well, it’s just amazing,” said Sollami. “We are all in masks, but you can see that we all have tears in our eyes, and you can see us crying at the same time as we cheer.”

She said it helps to know people care.

“Our community is just amazing,” said Sollami. “When you get those letters of thanks it just refuels your soul.”

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