How To Thank A Nurse (And Other Health Care Staff)

If you do plan to make cards or other gestures of support, be sure to call the hospital or clinic to arrange a time to drop them off — now is not the time to show up as a surprise.

Oregon Nurses Association spokesperson Kevin Mealy also said the biggest thing the public could do right now to thank a nurse is to do their best to avoid needing medical care.

“Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep distance. And get vaccinated,” Mealy said, adding that if people do need emergency medicine to be patient and kind.

He also said it’s imperative that people do what they can to keep up their own physical and mental health. Mental Health America says Oregon has the highest rate in the nation for adults with mental illness, and youth aren’t far behind. Mealy said teenagers are struggling particularly hard right now.

“We’ve seen adolescent mental health drop off a cliff during COVID,” Mealy said.

In the bigger picture, Mealy said the public needs to support additional funding for nurse training and retention programs. He called for frontline workers to have a seat at the table in policy decisions.

Joshua Holt, head of the Registered Nurses committee of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, echoed those calls.

“We have been really in a fight for our lives even before COVID to try to get our employer and the industry to get substantive improvements on nurse staffing,” Holt said. “We have been whittled down to a spreadsheet and productivity numbers.”

Holt, whose group is in the middle of contract negotiations with employer Kaiser Permanente, said the public could help improve working conditions by attending a rally Sept. 28 or signing a petition. He also encouraged Kaiser members to complain to administrators if they are unhappy with patient care because, Holt said, so are nurses.

“If you are frustrated, we would like for you to share it,” he said.

This story was originally published by Medical Motherhood and accompanied a story about a how a mother living in a Portland hospital is giving back.

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