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Showing Gratitude to Essential Workers

By Becki Cohn-Vargas March 25, 2022 Lifestyle

This week is the second anniversary of the California Covid 19 shelter-in-place order. What comes to your mind as you reflect on the pandemic over the last two years? How was your life impacted? What were the experiences of your family and friends?

Being an Essential Worker

Many of us who are now retired may have once held jobs as essential workers in some form or other. They know that we could not have made it through these pandemic years without the essential workers.

As a retired person with a cancer diagnosis, I was not out on the front lines. Although the pandemic is not yet a thing of the past, we can breathe a bit, stand back, and try to get back to some kind of everyday life.

In honor of this milestone, I would like to call out a special appreciation for every person who has risked their life and put in countless hours during the pandemic to keep the rest of us safe. So, let’s stop for a moment to recognize the tremendous contribution made by those folks.

My Own Past Experience in Healthcare

In 1977, at the age of 25, I had a very short stint working in healthcare. I volunteered for one year as assistant administrator at an earthquake relief hospital in a Cakchiquel town in Guatemala. Each month, American doctors and nurses rotated through, giving their time.

Everyone did a bit of everything in the make-shift hospital located in an abandoned school building. I took shifts as a nurse’s assistant, administering medicines, changing bandages. Once a tiny child with measles died in my arms while I was taking vital signs.

On a lighter note, I learned to deliver babies. As Doctor Polly said, “A normal birth is a piece of cake.” There were always doctors around to take over for a difficult birth. Through my Guatemala experience, I learned first-hand the dedication of medical professionals ready to face life and death, dealing with the physical and emotional needs of patients and their families.

Even though I dealt with many different and life-threatening situations, in reality, I did not experience the severe risk to my own life faced by the medical professionals during Covid.

Honoring Professionals’ Dedication

The pandemic called upon every person who worked in a hospital and healthcare facility, including the people who cleaned and the caregivers, to step up and risk their own lives. Some people stayed in other locations to protect their children.

A friend’s daughter took extreme risks working in the ICU, caring for seriously ill patients. Others filled in when hospital staff were out sick. Some faced triage choices when the number of Covid patients exceeded available beds and respirators.

Not Only Healthcare

Let me also mention the rest of the essential workers. Many went beyond the call of duty to ensure we had food on our tables and other items we needed to live our lives. They worked as caregivers for elderly persons in senior facilities and childcare facilities.

Firefighters, especially in places where massive wildfires raged, turned out in large numbers to save lives and safeguard structures and homes.

Personally, I am grateful to the people who kept my life-saving cancer medication arriving each month. Their efforts ensured the supply chain kept my medication and other cancer drugs reaching people worldwide.

Please take a minute to consider the health care workers and essential workers who touched your life. And if you are one of them, let me express my gratitude from the bottom of my heart.

Were you an essential worker back in the day? Do you have an essential worker among your close family and friends? How did they cope with the multitude of responsibilities that were caused by the pandemic? Have you shown your appreciation for their efforts?

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The Author

Becki Cohn-Vargas, Ed.D, has been blogging regularly for Sixty and Me since 2015. She is a retired educator and independent consultant. She's the co-author of three books on identity safe schools where students of all backgrounds flourish. Becki and her husband live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have three adult children and one grandchild. You can connect with her at the links below.

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