They are the glue that holds an overwhelmed healthcare system together. Nurses have an incredibly hard job at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. In the past year, we have seen them stand up to the challenge and danger of COVID-19 with courage, strength, and grace. It’s not difficult to see the toll, whether watching a news story on television or actually having one of these heroes in our households. It is literally etched on their faces with the impressions made by prolonged mask use and the general exhaustion from their daily tasks.
This sacrifice is not lost on the local community and the Gryphon Football family.
“A football season is comprised of games typically played on a weekend with a defined end, involving a championship celebration,” says Stu Lang, Gryphon Football’s former head coach and founder of the Lang Innovation Team. “We admire nurses and support staff at the Guelph General Hospital because their season has games played every day, without end and no opportunity to truly celebrate.”
The Lang Innovation Team and Gryphon Football want to show their thanks for our local nurses. As National Nurses Week approaches, LIT is donating eighty $50 certificates of downtown bucks to the staff of the General Hospital’s COVID Unit/4 Medicine.
It’s a gesture rooted in love to acknowledge what the staff at that unit have endured for over a year.
“All of us at the GGH have appreciated the support we have received from our community,” says Suzanne Bone, CEO of The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital, noting that list of gifts has included hand-sewn masks and scrub caps, food, flowers, gift certificates, coffee, treats, and kind words.
“It’s hard to put into words the depth of our appreciation for nurses and staff during this pandemic year,” adds Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie. “Nurses have been at the heart and soul of the healthcare system’s response to this terrible virus. Their dedication and caring have made a difference to so many people.
“On behalf of the community of Guelph, I say a heartfelt ‘thank you!’”
Members of LIT and the Gryphon Football family are well aware of what nurses mean to us. All they have to do is look at their own loved ones. Offensive line coach Mike MacDonald’s wife Anne Marie recently retired after helping combat the first two waves of the pandemic.
“I can’t say what it’s like to work under such stressful conditions, but I do get a good sense of it from them,” Coach MacDonald says of Anne Marie and his son Daniel, who is a paramedic. “I cannot say thank you enough to all nurses for what they’re doing every day to save the lives of people’s loved ones, under such difficult circumstances.
“This quote from Winston Churchill on the sacrifice of servicemen and women in the Battle of Britain in WWII is appropriate: ‘Never has so much been owed by so many, to so few.’”
Gryphon Football head coach Ryan Sheahan knows what nurses are made of – between him and his wife Jillian, there are eight nurses in the family.
“We are constantly amazed by every single one of you by how hard you work and how much you truly care about all of us,” says Coach Sheahan. “Your efforts over the past year have been nothing short of heroic. That you for all you do to keep our community safe.”
It takes a certain physical and mental strength to be a varsity football player and it’s apparent that some of the Gryphons get it from their moms. Offensive lineman Ben Lancaster always knew how amazing his mother Emma was but, in the past year, his admiration only grew. Emma Walker is a dialysis nurse at Ottawa General Hospital, and it was always her dream to join the profession.
“I remember seeing pictures of her as just a little girl in full nurse attire,” says Lancaster. “She knew right away that she wanted to make a difference and help others in need.”
Lancaster recognizes her unselfishness and ability to think quickly while under pressure, traits any good nurse requires. He appreciates that despite long shifts at the hospital, sometimes overnight, Emma continues to care for him, his younger brother Nick, and Dad Brian.
The biggest fear of the pandemic was realized in their household. Emma actually contracted COVID, likely while on the job, and each family member was infected. They have all recovered, though Lancaster and his Mom are still without their sense of smell almost four months later.
“She had it the worst and was in bed for a couple of days,” he says. “I couldn’t help but be so proud of her as I experienced how real the pandemic was. Not even two weeks later, she recovered and was back at the hospital helping others.
“In my eyes, she’s a hero.”
That’s an opinion shared by many about our beloved nurses. And it’s never been more prominent than now.
It’s time that everyone shows their love for them. The gifts are welcome. But there is something specific that will go a long way to truly show nurses’ work is understood and appreciated.
“One thing members of the community can do to support us is to follow all public health guidelines,” says Bone. “Wear your mask, stay distanced, wash your hands, and get vaccinated when you can.”
In recognition of our local nurses, the following downtown businesses are running special promotions for the 80 recipients of certificates during National Nurses Week: Diana Downtown, Flour Barrel Inc., Cheeky Bambino, Piatto Pizzeria and Enoteca Guelph, Gilded Cage, Tangy and Tasty Shawarma, Barres and Bells, BioPed Footcare Guelph, and Math Lab Learning Centre.
Written by: David Dicenzo
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