When Pandemic Hits Hospital Staff, One Town Delivers Groceries To Say Thank You

PARK CITY, Utah – This mountain community – comes alive during the winter ski season and the annual Sundance Film Festival – is home to Park City Hospital, which has 460 employees. Like countless hospitals across the country, the demands of covid-19 sometimes overwhelm the facility and dramatically change the way caregivers interact with patients.

“The past year and a half has taken a toll on us,” said Jodie Connelly, nurse manager of the hospital intensive care unit, Intermountain Healthcare System, based in Salt Lake City. . “Nurses have pretty thick skin, but the pandemic has tested us in ways we’ve never really been tested before.”

The community the hospital serves recognized the stress and came up with a new idea to help the hospital’s workers. Residents of Park City have raised enough money – through donations from more than a dozen residents and two major seed donors – to fund a grocery store that pops up from a room in the hospital that was originally a hospital. a private dining area.

The community of Park City, Utah, raised money to fund a grocery pop-up at the local hospital. All merchandise is free for hospital staff. (Intermountain Healthcare)

The hospital uses about $10,000 in donations each month to stock the store, and all merchandise is free for any hospital employee.

At first, the store offered ready-made pasta, chicken and mashed potatoes, and other meals, including vegetarian options, that caregivers could take home or eat during their shifts. their. Then, basic foods like milk and eggs were added for employees to stock in their refrigerators. Today, the Park City Hospital store has expanded to include nonperishable items such as cereals, sugar, oatmeal and pasta, along with a wide selection of fresh produce.

Connelly said she particularly appreciates the convenient access to fresh fruit and vegetables. “While I leave my pantry at home full of things I can’t handle, I will have to stop at the grocery store more often if I can’t bring home fresh produce,” she says.

Selene Macotela-Garcia, the food service supervisor at the hospital who stocks the store, said she tries to find a variety of items to offer. “Everybody gets excited when we bring in new items,” she said. She recently added lemon, eggplant, beetroot, and cabbage to the mix. “Eating sweet potatoes before Thanksgiving is especially popular,” she says.

Macotela-Garcia explains that some employees choose enough ready-to-eat foods to take home a cooked meal for each family member rather than having to prepare something when they arrive.

The store allows hospital staff to avoid public places with a high risk of biliary disease such as grocery stores and saves them money. “Financial resources were tight; Gregoria Taboada, a food service worker at the hospital, who frequents the store, said.

But the store has been very helpful in helping hospital care workers save on one item that is particularly in short supply these days: time.

“It means a lot to me, after a 13-hour shift, I don’t have to stop at a grocery store to buy the basics,” Connelly said.

It can be difficult to maintain a work-life balance as the costs of caring for the pandemic have caused some employees to quit and others often to be asked to take over their jobs.

“I started taking extra shifts each week to help,” said Katie Peabody, a nurse in the hospital’s intensive care unit. “I regularly work more than 50 hours a week to make the work physically, emotionally and mentally overwhelming,” she says.

“Financial resources were tight; Gregoria Taboada, a food service worker at Park City Hospital who frequents the store, said. (Intermountain Healthcare)

Hard working conditions are among many factors noted in the Recent Mayo Clinic research shows why nurses have suicidal thoughts more often than people in other professions.

“Sometimes there are just two nurses in the ICU with no technicians or secretaries to call or help,” says Peabody.

While Utah is among the lower half Among the fully immunized states, Park City’s Summit County is the most immunized in the state with 80% of residents fully immunized. However, due to the city’s high tourist numbers, the county’s current transmission level is still evaluate into the highest category.

The store is also a boost to morale, workers say, especially when they have to deal with another belated change: patients who no longer trust or appreciate them. “None of us wanted to be a hero,” Connelly said, “but we used to have a great relationship with patients and their families. That has changed in many cases during the pandemic.”

She noted that almost all of the covid patients she has treated this year have been unvaccinated, and most have a very strong feeling about preventive measures like the use of masks and vaccines. ask for. She said many patients believe what they see on social media about treatment options suggested by hospital staff.

“Some don’t believe they got covid while we were treating them,” she lamented. “Some don’t even wear oxygen tanks [mask]; They argue with us about everything. … Some people are downright malicious. ”

While such patients may be the exception, negative interactions can cause damage that employees say the store helped make up for.

Peabody added: “The hospital store is proof that we are appreciated. “Even as some patients tell us otherwise, every time I visit the store I am reminded that there are people out there who appreciate me and are trying to take care of me like I am trying to. try to take care of others”.

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