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Reflecting on a Year of COVID-19

Michelle LeBeau, President, Alice Hyde Medical Center & CVPH

We have reached a sad moment in our ongoing fight against COVID-19: it has been one year since our first inpatient death from the virus at CVPH.

Since April 10, 2020, we have lost 28 souls at the hospital to this unprecedented public health crisis. They were mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, adult children, grandparents, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins. They were friends, colleagues and neighbors - our patients. Each profound loss represents what could have been, if not for the dreadful disease caused by the coronavirus.

When many of us suffer the deep sorrow brought on by tragedy like this, we vow to, “Never forget.” We will never forget the grief we felt when a loved one took that last breath, or the despair of saying a final goodbye on our smartphone instead of holding their hand and being there together because of this scourge of a virus. Sadness may greet us every night at the dinner table or the next family get-together, when we are reminded that our loved one is no longer with us.

Promising to never forget, while a beautiful gesture, brings with it a lot of pain. Pain that resonates for all who lost those they love during the pandemic regardless of their aliment. When I look back on the past 13 months of the pandemic, I want to be sure we never forget the strength that resulted from COVID-19.

I see the bravery of each patient battling the virus with every ounce of determination they could muster, many of them leaving the hospital and returning home to their families and friends. I remember with pride the courage of each and every person wearing a CVPH badge who came to work every day to help take on a virus we initially knew very little about – or the impact it would have on their own professional and personal lives.

I reflect on the outpouring of support from you, the incredible members of our community, sewing masks and building face shields to protect us, dropping off food to help our staff get through long shifts and generously giving to The Foundation of CVPH to help families stay in touch with their loved ones when they could not visit with each other in the hospital. It is truly an honor to call home a place where so many folks watch out for each other, lean in and help those in need.

Despite every challenge COVID-19 has thrown our way, we stand here in defiance of the virus, ready to provide the care you need from the people you know, now and always.

As we continue to find our way forward through this pandemic, it is important to take time to reflect on what has happened and what we have gone through. While the past year has brought much darkness, it has also shined a light on how much we can accomplish, together. I am forever grateful for every member of our team and the work they continue to do. They have brought an abundance of compassion and expertise, passion for great care, enthusiasm for improving every shift and a commitment to doing their best for our patients and each other.

While we are not quite rid of the coronavirus, there are rays of hope provided by the vaccines now readily available to almost everyone. I ask you to honor those who have passed, their grieving families and the health care workers on the frontlines of this pandemic by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, continuing to social distance and practicing hand hygiene.

While there is still much work to do, I believe in our organization, its people, our community and the path we will walk together in creating the next generation of care in our community.

Be well. Be safe. Be kind.