It’s National Nurses Week and the frontline workers at Hartford HealthCare received a heartfelt thank you on Wednesday afternoon.
The health system treated them to a special concert by country singer Jordan Oaks just outside the hospital in downtown Hartford.
For many of the first responders, this recognition of their hard work means a lot.
Oaks played in front of a crowd filled with smiles. For an hour, Hartford HealthCare workers were staggered to watch the live concert.
“It’s nice to have music, it’s nice to party with your peers. It is also a consolation for the soul,” said Ifeoma Mogor, nurse in charge of a surgical unit.
The event was a show of appreciation from Hartford HealthCare.
“It’s been a tough two years, not just for us, for our patients, and also for our families,” Mogor said.
Two years that have brought unprecedented hardship to frontline workers.
“Coming to work every day during the pandemic was difficult and scary,” said Wendy Savarese, nurse educator in perioperative services.
This has forced them to deal with tragedy too often within the walls of the hospital.
“My 42-bed unit turned out to be a 38-bed COVID unit,” Mogor said. “So I’ve seen patients die more than they ever have before. And back then, you know, I keep saying to myself, ‘Will my team survive? Or will she ever get out of it?'”
They were overwhelmed with emotion, which the nurses say they did not leave behind as they walked through the door.
“I go home and I cry every day. I’m not just crying for myself, I’m crying for my team,” Mogor said. “It’s the cry during the shower. It’s a cry that we utter outside before entering the house.”
Nurses have also taken new steps to provide comfort and care.
“There were no families, okay, there was no one for them,” Savarese said. “We were kind of their lifeline back then.”
After more than two years of dealing with all the challenges posed by COVID-19, many of these frontline workers are reflecting on their current situation.
“Coming back two years later, to be able to take our masks off and share together, so we’ve overcome a lot together. And it’s really a proud moment to be part of it,” said Savarese.
Oaks is among those expressing their gratitude. He said he was writing a song dedicated to doctors and nurses.
“It’s just an honor to play for these people who sacrifice their lives and really put their lives on the line to make sure we’re safe and healthy,” he said.
Few have answered the call like these frontline workers, who are now recognized as healthcare heroes.
“The nurses I work with all share this fear. We didn’t know, it was the unknown,” Savarese said of the fight against the pandemic. “But the only thing we knew was that we showed up. It was a time in my life where I was like, ‘This is where I need to be.'”