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EDITORIAL: Give a (virtual) hug to your local health-care worker

- Reuters


Your neighbour might have put a sign in her window thanking health-care workers.

You may be worried about your brother the nurse, who cares for people sick with this virus, or your physician friend, who is isolating herself from her family so as not to put them at the same risk she faces every day at work.

You’ve likely seen the videos on social media applauding the doctors, nurses and emergency care workers on the COVID-19 front lines.

Some conduct tests, meeting dozens of possible cases every day, applying swabs and collecting specimens. Others transport patients in ambulances, overseeing their care until emergency room personnel can take over.

Still more care for the very sick in intensive care units, equipped with gloves, masks and gowns to protect themselves.

Chronicle Herald columnist John DeMont wrote about Shelly McHugh earlier this week. The retired nurse has certainly done her bit, working for decades in an IWK intensive care unit. Now 61, she could have decided to sit this one out and no one would have blamed her.

But she answered the call for retired nurses to re-activate their licence for a few months in order to help her former colleagues get through this crisis.

McHugh was willing to do whatever the situation required, an attitude much like the Queen described in her address over the weekend, one of “quiet, good-humoured resolve,” a modern version of the fabled British stiff upper lip.

The Queen singled out health-care workers in her address for their selfless devotion and noted that “every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times.”

That salute was echoed all over the world. For one example that hits close to home, check out the tribute put together this week by the cast of Come From Away, the Broadway musical about another trying time.

The story’s familiar: it’s about how the people of Gander reacted when 38 airliners descended upon them after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They selflessly housed, fed and cared for more than 6,000 bewildered strangers, nearly doubling the town’s population at the time.

The cast, struck by the similarities between the events that inspired the show and reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, co-ordinated an online performance of a song from the musical interspersed with readings of letters of thanks to health workers.

It’s a fitting tribute and an inspiration. If there’s a nurse, doctor, respiratory technologist or emergency care worker in your life, send them a virtual hug. They deserve it.

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