WHEATLAND – In a time when we are slowly coming out of COVID, and everyone would just as soon as forget about it. There is only one reason to look back when it does come to a close, and that is to remember those who have been on the front lines reaching out to those who are hurting and those who are in need.
Most small towns do not have the luxury of a hospital close by, and Platte County is blessed to have a hospital that is filled with caregivers and people who have given their lives for their profession. Not an easy profession to be hooked into – especially the past year.
Taking a look back on some of the front-line people will open your eyes as to the dedication it took to get us all through this rough stretch. From the police to the firefighters; from the nursing home staffs to the grocery personnel and of course, the doctors, the nurses, the cleaning crews, and food service workers of our local hospital.
Last winter when people were being quarantined and shut-in, the hospital put their creeds and their oaths before themselves and even some of their families. Not sounding their own trumpets or banging their own drums, they worked tirelessly, humbly and silently caring for the sick.
Then they went the extra mile without seeking out any praise or fanfare. The hospital supports youth activities, sports teams in the area, the county fair and of course, at Christmas, one of their big projects of philanthropy is having the employees put together food boxes for those who are on hard times and thin ice around the holidays. Instead of going home after long shifts to their families, they burned midnight oil in the midst of a pandemic and a frozen Wyoming winter – building food boxes for the Lions Club.
The food drive project for many years has been organized by Robin May, IT Assoc. Director WR.
“In 2007 I started working with Ken Barnes and we started doing the food drive,” she said. “Everyone just brought in whatever food they wanted and we’d put it in boxes and take it over to the Lions Club. And after the first couple of years of doing that, we became more organized and we have put together over 800 meals.”
By 2014 the hospital was putting tother 60 boxes each Christmas. They slowly increased their output until last year when they put together 88 boxes of food. The Platte County Hospital has been on the front lines for healing and care and doing their jobs, but have gone the extra mile.
Some would call it, “not in their job description,” but not here in Platte County. The hospital supports two main fundraisers a year, one being the Lions Club and the other for this year has yet to be determined. You could say, it’s not going an extra mile, but they exemplify poet Frost’s sentiment in saying, “We have miles to go before we sleep.”
The full boxes of food the hospital puts together are not comprised of dusty cans found in the back of an obscure Platte County panty, but fresh, quality food so that when those who wouldn’t have otherwise had a meal for the holidays will realize there is hope for tomorrow. When you give, hope is planted.
“The full boxes of food we put together has everything from dessert, vegetable, flour and sugar just to name a few of the things,” May said. “The increase in 2020 was most likely due to COVID and we emphasized to our employees that we had a goal to help more families in the community this year. The other thing that was really helpful this year and I want to give kudos to Thrifty Foods because they partnered with us and Jodi Peterson put together a fixed cost so our employees could call and order a box and they would put it together. All they had to do was go and pick it up for $25 per box.”
Every employee from housekeeping to dietary, laundry all the way up to the doctors and administrators have donated to this cause and they have treated it like a family helping families. Even people within the hospital themselves that find it a struggle around the holidays pitched in.
“It’s not just a matter of us caring about our community when they come into this facility, we care about our community all the time,” May said. “We want to give because we want to give. And our employees from all areas of the hospital come in and they bring their little boxes and they donate everything that they can and then they walk away and they don’t ever expect to hear anything else about it.”
Kind of the definition of unsung heroes. Those that have flown under the radar during COVID and those we really need to remember and to thank them for walking those extra miles in dangerous times and brutal conditions.
“We do a lot of sponsorships and scholarships,” said Hospital CEO Ned Resch. “Officially there are two charities that our organization will choose each year. That enables us to go out to our employees and say, ‘these are the two charities we are supporting this year,’ and we can solicit our employees for donations or volunteer hours. Lions Club food drive has been one of those every year choices because it’s been so successful. We don’t only do health care, but we love to do community care.”
The passion and the love that our health care organization affords us is in Platte County is not the norm. Many times, in big cities or even sometimes in smaller communities, health care organizations have felt that just doing health care is sufficient. Let’s face the facts that it’s a grueling profession, the health care providers are dealing with patients who are sick, and as such, can be a challenge to care for. Not all, but certainly some. It’s long hours, not a lot of financial gain in a small community, and if anyone has a right to be a little selfish, it may be them. But not here in Platte County. The level of genuine care has been something the hospital has been striving for in and out of pandemic situations.
“There was an increase in boxes this year, I think, was COVID related,” Resch said. “We weren’t able to do as many outreach events in person like we normally do. For example, the Foundation Golf Tournament was not held last year and our employees usually go and volunteer. I think there is a lot of pent-up desire to go and do more this year even beyond providing health care.”
Our local front-line heroes that the community will never forget as the mandates and the restrictions and the pandemic passes on. Sometimes overlooked until there is a crisis. They take care of the community because it’s their job. They go beyond the care because we are their passion.