Cox South COVID-19 staff greeted by supporters offering prayers and signs of encouragement

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 5:58 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Normally when you see a group of people gathered on the side of the street holding up signs you figure they’re protesting about something.

But that wasn’t the case on Wednesday morning at Cox South Hospital in Springfield.

At 10 o’clock a group of about 20 people faced the West Tower of Cox South where the COVID-19 ward is located and held a minute of silence and prayer for those employees inside who are putting their lives on the line every day in trying to save the lives of others.

They also held up an assortment of hand-made signs that said “Thank You”, “Sending you Gratitude, Courage and Compassion”, “Springfield Nurses Rock!”, “Prayers”, and a large sign with a line from the Taylor Swift song “Epiphany” that said, “With You I Serve, With You I Fall Down”.

Aubree Walters, a home care nurse for CoxHealth, came up with the idea and started a Facebook post to get others involved.

“I was at work having a hard day and thinking if I was having this bad a day, I can’t imagine how the hospital staff is feeling,” Walters recalled. “Unfortunately this thing is not going away and so all we can do right now is support them.”

“We as health care professionals care for other people and that care takes something from us,” said Kirsten Parks, the CoxHealth Director of Home Health. “It’s love, care, compassion and emotion that we give away to people on a daily basis. While it’s true that’s our job and we signed up for it because we love it, when you don’t see the end coming it takes a lot out of us.”

“I can only imagine what they’re going through in that ward,” added Kim Sisk, the CoxHealth Administrative Director of Home Health Services. “So that’s what it’s about today. Making sure they know there are partners and people holding them up in support in every move that they make and it’s very much appreciated.”

“They’re working 12-hour shifts and they’re in the full PPE,” said Shannon Stiles, the Cox Home Health Clinical Manager. “It has to be exhausting and discouraging.”

Most of the supporters taking part in the event are with Cox’s home health care program and that staff also deals with COVID-19 patients. They pick up the baton in the medical marathon when those patients are ready to leave the hospital, and many times they deal with the more serious cases.

“In order to be on a ventilator you have to be paralyzed,” Parks explained. “You have a tube for every human function. So those people have really long recovery times. They need to learn how to do the most basic of tasks again. They need assistance with bathing, dressing, eating. It’s a lot to keep up with and those nurses are getting tired too.”

“We experienced an array of emotions during COVID,” Walters said of her home health care experience with COVID-19 patients. “Anywhere from anger, frustration, anxiety, depression. Some of those feelings were relief and hope when our numbers started to improve but the second surge has thrown most of us right back to where we were if not more so because it’s worse. It’s really emotionally draining.”

Walters recalled one very emotional case when she cared for a woman and her husband in their 90′s who both survived COVID only to have their 60 year-old son and 24 year-old grandson die from it.

“I did not cry in front of her,” Walters said. “But I could not wait until I could get in my car so I could cry.”

Health care workers also tend to get emotional when people downplay the coronavirus and don’t take advantage of the medical help available to combat it.

“So when I hear people have the perspective that COVID isn’t that big of a deal? Well it really is,” Stiles said. “And I think some people don’t realize that until it affects their loved one.”

“Those of us who are living and breathing it every day see those implications,” Sisk added. “No one is immune and it does not discriminate.”

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