Over the course of the past year and a half, COVID-19 has brought many changes to all our lives. We changed the way we socialized, traveled and communicated as well as the way we worked.
While we all have experienced these changes in different magnitudes, the respiratory department at Bon Secours St. Francis Downtown had to adapt not only to protect themselves from the virus, but also to save those who were suffering from it.
“The workload grew tremendously – we went from a three-unit hospital to a seven-unit ICU hospital,” Jacqueline Crenshaw, one of our respiratory therapists, recalls. “Everyone was working, and it was hard to find a break.”
Despite the challenges, Jacqueline and her team members credit the Upstate community with giving them the strength they needed to continue pushing forward, even on their toughest days. Whether it was pizza, sandwiches or other local restaurant favorites, the staff was blessed by community sponsors that made sure they weren’t working on an empty stomach.
“We want to make a difference in the communities that we are in,” Mike Link of NewSpring Church explains. “During COVID, we felt like one of the best ways to do that was to show our hospital staff and medical professionals – who are making a huge difference – how much we love and support them.”
The meals in between patient care provided nutritional fuel and were often paired with other tokens of appreciation – ranging from care packages and local discounts to medical supplies and handwritten letters. Each donation served as a reminder that the community was there cheering on our team members as they continued to fight against COVID-19 from the frontlines. Not only that, but it gave the community a way to feel like they were part of the fight, too.
“As the church, we believe our primary role is helping people experience the love of Jesus Christ. Supporting this department is one way that we felt we could be activated and mobilized to make a difference in our community,” Mike says.
Many of the letters came from schools, colleges, companies and churches from throughout the community. Simple messages ranging from, “you are amazing, dedicated and courageous,” to “I am so grateful that the world has people like you,” provided our health care heroes with the encouragement needed to continue providing care, even in the most dire of circumstances.
“When you’re tired, it makes a big difference,” Karen Alvarenga, another of our respiratory therapists, shares. “Whether it’s a meal or a handwritten note, it gives us the strength to continue.”
These respiratory therapists and their other colleagues on the frontlines say they will not soon forget the pressures of the past 18 months. The days were long, and the breaks were few, but the support from the community helped fuel the team to push forward. That is something they won’t forget anytime soon either.
Karen adds, “the letters, care packs and meals really made a difference. The support, what they have done for us, it was extremely appreciated.”
Remember that getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is the best way you can avoid severe illness and protect those around you. Learn more about our ministry’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts.