The bruises and open sores from wearing masks during 12-hour (or longer) shifts was the first visual that struck people in the beginning of the pandemic. The tired, pain-filled eyes were the second, and perhaps the most poignant, impression.

Nearly 9,300 U.S. health care workers contracted COVID-19, and 27 have died, according to a NPR report released April 15. Most of those who tested positive (55%) think they were exposed at work. Nearly three-quarters are women and more than a third had some underlying health condition. The median age is 42.

About 8% of those who tested positive didn't have symptoms. And 90% didn't have to be hospitalized. But as many as 5% did require intensive care. A third of the health care workers who died were over 65 years old.

We recently came across a very tangible way to send thank yous, to at least The Cleveland Clinic workers who are putting themselves in danger each and every shift. Kudoboard is described as an online tool to gather a group and send appreciation, a sort of an electronic greeting card that gets passed around and signed. (https://tinyurl.com/ycscoo5k)

Here are some of the messages recently posted:

“Thank you to our caregivers who are going above and beyond. I know doctors and nurses who are sleeping in tents in their yards so they can see patients and not expose their families. Thank you to the families who are supporting their efforts.”

“Let’s not forget about the EVS workers who work hard to keep the hospital, the rooms and the beds sanitized especially in the ER shout out to the CLEVELAND CLINIC EVS TEAM for working hard to keep surfaces, beds, bathrooms and everything else COVID FREE.”

“I have so much gratitude towards the staff at Fairview Hospital and rehab center in Avon. I had a stroke in March and the care I received as a person not just a patient was incredible. Especially, towards the therapists, who have helped me feel confident in returning to my everyday life. I know I have a long journey in front of me, but with the care and support I have received, I'm well on my way to being me again. Thank you doesn't seem enough. With Love, Molly”

Let’s not forget University Hospitals employees. People are thanking them in ways other than a Kudoboard. One Northeast Ohio man who says the staff there saved his life last week delivered some 5,000 Subway sandwiches for the staff. The man has cancer, and he believes they saved his life during a month-long hospitalization that unfortunately coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

So let’s use social media to say thanks. Let’s send them masks if they need them and stay inside if they say it is necessary.

A big thank you is not enough for people risking their lives to save others. But it’s the least we can do.

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