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Editorial | Health care workers deserve compassion, thanks

Staff wrote a note on a window at Mercy Hospital South in south St. Louis County Dec. 14.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
Referring to health care workers as “wounded healers and bearers of hope and healing,” Dominican Brother Ignatius Perkins listed the various struggles they’ve had since beginning to care for COVID-19 patients.

“Each day as we say good-bye to our patients and colleagues; we are afraid to return home to our families, knowing that we may carry illness and death to them; we are fearful about returning to our centers of care — the guilt of abandoning the sick when caring moments are desperately needed but sometimes beyond our reach,” Brother Ignatius wrote in the fall 2020 issue of Health Progress, the journal of the Catholic Health Association.

Those caring for worried and suffering patients and families often are working long, stressful hours. Some caregivers have been exposed and are quarantined, physically separated from their colleagues, families and usual sources of support. Others are voluntarily separating themselves from loved ones to avoid exposing those at home to the virus. All are in need of emotional support and prayers.

Brother Ignatius, a professor and chair of the School of Nursing at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, assured health care workers that they are unique and precious in Jesus’ eyes, the very face of compassion and mercy. He reminded them that even in Jesus’ suffering and death, “He brought healing to the world. Jesus is a wounded healer to nurses and all health care personnel in this time of our journey through the coronavirus pandemic.”

Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski visited three area health care facilities Dec. 16, to thank health care workers for their tireless dedication during the COVID-19 crisis, and to encourage and pray with them as they continue to fight against the virus. An article in this week’s St. Louis Review details efforts of pastoral care to the workers.

As we await the celebration of the birth of Jesus, His light and the hope it brings is a message for all of us, but especially health care workers. Pope Francis, in the apostolic letter, “On the Meaning and Importance of the Nativity Scene,” refers to the “starry sky wrapped in the darkness and silence of night.” Everyone “can think of all those times in our lives when we have experienced the darkness of night. Yet even then, God does not abandon us, but is there to answer our crucial questions about the meaning of life,” Pope Francis wrote, adding that “His closeness brings light where there is darkness and shows the way to those dwelling in the shadow of suffering” (Luke 1:79).

Please show health care workers support and give them a well-deserved thank you, reminding them of their work’s ties to Jesus’ ministry and that He is with them.

>> Find simple ways to show encouragement

• Create a colorful sign to show gratitude for health care workers and hang it on your window or put it in your yard

• Send holiday cards to front-line caregivers. One place where cards may be mailed to is: Holiday Wishes for Health Care Heroes 1015 Corporate Square Drive, Suite 101 Creve Coeur, MO 63132

• Donate a meal from a local restaurant to a health care worker you know

• Cheer them on — from a distance

• Stay healthy

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