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Meals To Lip Balm: How Yuma Residents, Businesses Thank Health Workers

In December, Yuma Regional Medical Center became so overwhelmed with patients considered acute — or very sick — that it looked to hire EMT/paramedics to support the emergency department. The hospital also called on outpatient providers and staff to offer temporary support.

The city of Yuma is trying to show its support for health care workers through a new initiative called Adopt-a-Nurse. The project is meant to offer encouragement to more than 500 health care workers who show up every day at Yuma Regional Medical Center in the southwestern corner of Arizona.

Mayor Douglas Nicholls said the public support displayed early in the pandemic is less visible now. 

“People care the same but unless you have a family member who is sick or in the hospital or a family member who works in the hospital, the health care worker, you don’t have that day to day realization of how much work is going into taking care of COVID patients and thankfully, a lot of people don’t,” he said. “However, we need to remember that there are some people immersed in this to the point of near exhaustion almost every day. We need to show some gratefulness, show some compassion really to them as well as just overall support.”

Adopt-a-Nurse encourages people to send cards and donations through the city’s website. Nicholls said all donors, amounts and purchases will be publicly shared. Money will cover things like meals and supplies.

“When you’re in heavy PPE every day evidently your lips tend to dry out so Chapstick. It could be as simple as, you know, maybe hand cream or things that really they wear through — like supports for their shoes,” he said. “Those are the things that make life just a little bit nicer in a very heavy work environment.”

Since announcing the initiative on Dec. 17, Yuma has raised more than $4,000. The first major donation came from Swire Coca-Cola, which provided 25 cases of Powerade and 20 cases of Monster energy drinks. And over the past weekend, Nicholls said they procured 500 meals at $5 each.

People can send online notes of encouragement or drop off holiday and thank you cards at City Hall, Buffalo Wild Wings or The Original Chretin’s Mexican Restaurant.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.