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Saying Thanks to Frontline Workers
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Mid-valley resident Susan Blair heads into St. Luke’s Wood River, cinnamon buns in hand.
   
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

The morning sun was climbing in the sky as Susan Blair walked out of Hangar Bread, carrying six boxes of cinnamon buns in her arms.

She pointed her silver Jeep south towards Hailey Medical Clinic where she handed the still-warm buns off to Lupita Orozco and Sylvia Romero.

“Forty rolls for the entire building,” said Blair.

 
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Those making gifts of food must hand them off to be distributed by staff.
 

Blair had been working for a month to get permission to acknowledge the long hours health care workers have been putting in since the pandemic started 20 months ago. She wanted to do more than give a card. And, while she’s made monetary donations to St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation, she wanted to do something more personal, more tangible, this time.

“I think it’s something everyone should be doing now,” she said. “I selected the Hailey Medical Clinic because I volunteered here for the last two years before the pandemic and I know all the people. I always brought things in before the pandemic. I walked out of the clinic in March of 2020, not knowing I wouldn’t be coming back the next day. It wasn’t fair. I’ve spent the past 19 months worrying about all the health care workers.”

Blair was a hospital administrator in charge of volunteers when she lived in New York.  She has volunteered with St. Luke’s Wood River for 25 years, stuffing envelopes, pushing patients in wheelchairs and taking newspapers to patients.

“I used to buy coffee and tea packets for the workers,” she said. “Occasionally, I’d bring in Jewish food for them to try at the holidays, putting a sign in the kitchen that said, ‘Please Take.’ ”

 
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Hangar Breads’ cinnamon buns burst with cinnamon sweetness despite being icing free.
 

It was an interview on NPR about a nurse who was putting in 15-hour shifts, even as members of the community questioned the science behind what hospitals were doing, that spurred her to donate the cinnamon buns.

“I listened to this nurse talk about having to say goodbye to COVID patients they couldn’t save and I pulled my car over and cried,” she said. “Maybe not everyone has the wherewithal to make a big donation. But they can bake cookies or muffins at home and wrap each in Saran Wrap to meet hospital protocol just to let workers know we appreciate them.”

Bellevue resident Anne Jeffery concurred, saying that perhaps even groups, such as book clubs and fitness classes, could organize ways of showing their appreciation.

“I think health care workers have been under continuous stress,” she said. “We came out as a community to howl for health care workers in the beginning of the pandemic. But we’ve done nothing organized since to let them know we recognize how difficult it is for them.  Food is certainly one way, but are there other things we could do?”

 
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Susan Blair shares a fleeting moment with Lupita Orozco and Sylvia Romero once her mission is accomplished.
 

Some community members have expressed appreciation by making monetary donations to St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation. The Foundation used such donations to purchase testing equipment during the early days of the pandemic, and it has fed staff lunches and dinners provided by local restaurants once a week through its Feeding the Frontline fund.

St. Luke’s also has an Employee Recognition Fund that benefits all the staff at St. Luke’s Wood River, said Marsha Edwards, a spokesperson for the Foundation. People can make a donation to that fund at  www.slwrf.org, earmarking their donation to ERF.

Those who wish to give items, such as muffins, should pre-package each individually and include a note so recipient will know who donated the items, Edwards said.

Erin Pfaeffle, who heads up St. Luke’s Center for Community Health, said that gestures like Blair’s boost morale.

“They’re very thoughtful and so appreciated,” she said. “Knowing the community’s thinking about them working hard does make a difference.

“The generosity of our community has been unprecedented the last year and a half, and food is one of the primary ways of conveying gratitude,” she added. “You can’t go wrong with food—some of these workers have been working so hard they’ don’t even have a chance to eat a proper meal. And, when they go home, they’re often too tired to prepare a meal to take with them the next day.”


 

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