OCH Regional Medical Center nurse Kadie Byrd sees the grave impact the Delta variant of COVID-19 is having on patients.
Working daily in the Intensive Care Unit, Byrd said her staff constantly endures “chaos” trying to care for sick patients. While ICU nurses first saw the effects of COVID-19 during 2020, she said the past few months caring for patients with the Delta variant have been the toughest she has ever experienced.
Aside from the ICU being short staffed, Byrd said she and her fellow nurses, who sometimes have to work 16-hour shifts, rarely have time to sit down at work or take a break.
“I would say over the past month, I have not eaten a meal and not really had time to go to the bathroom,” Byrd said. “Somebody will maybe bring us a protein bar and a Coke, and that may be all that we eat during the day.”
The Greater Starkville Development Partnership is creating a way to bring meals to staff members at OCH who may not have time to eat throughout the day. GSDP Director of Membership Development Hunter Harrington said she knows OCH staff has been “working around the clock” to take care of patients infected with the virus. By bringing meals to workers, she hopes they will know they are loved and supported.
“At first during the pandemic, everybody was on board to do everything to help our health care workers, but now (COVID-19) has been so prolonged, this is probably when they need it the most,” Harrington said.
Businesses and organizations can sign up to provide a meal for workers through takethemameal.com. People can sign up to bring lunch on Tuesday for 150 workers or dinner on Thursdays for 50 workers. Both meals ensure all OCH nursing staff members are fed at least once per week.
Individuals can also donate gift bag items such as water bottles, granola bars and compression socks to give to workers through signupgenius.com.
Along with food and gift items, Harrington said GSDP is working to compile a “Thank You to OCH’’ video from various members of the community thanking workers for their contributions to society. Photos and videos can be emailed to hharri[email protected].
“The way we have organized it, I think that the lot of the business community can find a way to get involved,” Harrington said. “We have a lot of smaller meals that they can help and donate or a larger meal they can help donate. We’re doing little gift bags as well with various items.”
After completing more work than she has ever had to do on the job, Byrd said she appreciates when community members recognize the job nurses and health care workers perform.
“Last year, everybody was so thankful,” Byrd said. “Health care workers were heroes. Now, we’re constantly scrutinized and judged for everything. It’s hard at times.”
Byrd recalled a story of a patient she cared for who had passed away a few months ago. His daughter reached out to Byrd thanking her for the love and care she had shown her father during his stay at the hospital.
“His daughter took the time to call me and said, ‘I don’t know if I ever told you thank you. I really appreciate everything you did,’” Byrd recalled. “I started squalling on the phone because she was actually someone who said ‘Thanks for what you do.’ It really does just mean a lot to hear that from people.”
Harrington said she wants the community to make a big difference in servicing these front line workers, like Byrd. During a time of hardship and adversity, Harrington said she hopes to bring a bit of joy to those making the biggest difference.
“We were thinking, ‘What can we do to help?’” Harrington said.