When the novel coronavirus first invaded our community, there was an outpouring of support for our front line health care workers. Now months into the pandemic, health care workers are still in the heat of battle and in need of encouragement more than ever. 

A local chaplain expressed the emotional toll and fatigue felt by so many in health care: 

I am realizing how overwhelmed in grief I am right now: all the COVID deaths and potential deaths … Overwhelmed in grief. That is my chaplain response today from these months with COVID. I want to share the celebrations (and we have had those), but there have been so many griefs. Standing at the glass doors watching, being one to sadly tell families they cannot visit, or when they can, it is at a time of approaching death, and even then they cannot touch or enter in. I am overwhelmed in grief today. 

Through the physical and emotional fatigue, health care workers have continued to provide care for those in need. This Labor Day, let’s recognize their hard work with some simple expressions of gratitude.

Simple, personal expressions of gratitude are meaningful. Almost everyone is connected with someone on the front lines, whether it’s a friend, neighbor, fellow congregant, a friend of a friend, or the health care worker you see at the grocery store. Show appreciation by sending a card, delivering a gift card for a takeout meal, or dropping off groceries and other necessities. Health care workers have been busy taking care of our community, and helping them with small errands can go a long way to lighten their load. 

Appropriate public expressions are also encouraging. You could organize a “parade” around a health care facility or place appreciation banners outside your building or at neighborhood entrances. You can organize with companies, congregations, youth groups, or other organizations you’re a part of to write thank you cards and provide a meal or snack for local hospital staff. It is amazing how energizing such public expressions of appreciation can be. 

Spiritual support from the community is another way to show appreciation. Every day, pray in your heart for our health care community. Make prayers a regular focus during worship services, classes, and other faith gatherings. Send prayer cards to our hospitals letting health care heroes know you’re praying for them. No matter your faith tradition, you can take some time in your day to keep health care workers in your thoughts and prayers. 

I asked workers in various capacities within the health care industry what they would ask people to pray for them. In their selfless responses, these were mentioned time and again: wisdom and discernment, physical strength and protection, peace and calmness. 

Without a doubt, the best thing you can do for our health care heroes is to help fight this virus by following suggested guidelines and asking your family, friends, and associates to do the same. Wear face masks to limit the potential to spread the virus to others, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, and avoid crowds or prolonged contact with anyone outside your immediate household. As we approach flu season, medical experts and local officials are encouraging everyone who is able to get the flu shot to do so as soon as possible. While coronavirus-related hospitalizations are declining, flu-related hospitalizations could add to the load and overwhelm hospitals.

San Antonio is blessed with one of the most vibrant health care communities in the world. At this challenging time, your gratitude, support, and encouragement mean so much to those who have worked so hard these past months to take care of our community. Take time this Labor Day and beyond to show your support.