Those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic are not going unrecognized in Fayette County.
Locals are rallying to support Uniontown Hospital with donations, well wishes and gratitude, said hospital spokesman Josh Krysak.
“We’re ecstatic with that support and with that level of caring from the community. It means a lot to all of us right now,” he said.
Members of the community have made surgical, cloth masks and donated hand sanitizer and other protective gear. Local business have donated food and other goods, Krysak said.
Others have made signs, placed strategically where hospital workers and others who may be exposed to COVID-19 patients will know they are appreciated. The Fayette County Chamber of Commerce kicked off its “Hospital Heroes” campaign Tuesday for National Health Day. A sign was placed outside the hospital along Berkeley Street, where locals are asked to write notes thanking those in the medical field. Coloring pages are also available for children to leave on the billboard.
“We are looking at every avenue possible for our healthcare workers to know they are supported in Fayette County,” said Muriel Nuttall, executive director of the chamber of commerce.
Additional signs have also popped up along the billboard and at the hospital’s COVID-19 testing center in the former Kmart parking lot.
Jason Lamer, pastor of Faith Assembly of God church, encouraged people to leave an encouraging note or add a sign.
“They are there to help us, and they are doing it selflessly – they need to know that we support them,” he said.
State Rep. Matt Dowling, R-Uniontown, said he hopes the community rallies around the mission to support healthcare workers.
“A mission like this is something positive a community can rally around in these uncertain times. It is so important to support our health care employees and hospital workers. I see the stress this virus has brought to my own family, as my mother and sister, both nurses, go to work to care for their patients each day. These people truly are superheroes in our world today,” he said.
Hospital workers have taken notice, and said it is encouraging to know the community is behind them when they go into work.
“Seeing those signs start to go up around the hospital campus lifted our spirits and gave me a sense of the community understanding how hard things are right now,” said Registered Nurse and manager of emergency services Nicole Brown. “Our frontline teams can feel that support and it really makes a difference.”
Uniontown Redevelopment Authority Director Mark Rafail said he hopes the support continues for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. Krysak said the support is apparent by the calls he gets from locals.
“Every single day, we have people reaching out, asking how they can help, how they can support us,” Krysak said.
He said the hospital is still facing a shortage of personal protective equipment, along with the rest of the country, as they are using the items more than ever before. He said the hospital can use donations of respirators, homemade and N95 masks, gowns, shields and any other type of medical or protective equipment. For those not in a position to donate, he said messages of support also go a long way to help.
“This is an unprecedented and exceptionally challenging time for each of us, especially those of us working at the hospital as we try to ensure our ability to care for our community,” he said. “The outpouring of support from everyone has been tremendous and it means so much to have the chamber of commerce and dozens of local businesses and churches and residents caring about us and praying for us. It’s special. On behalf of the entire hospital, thank you for your support. It has given our entire staff a bit of light in a dark time.”