As we have begun to resume some semblance of normal life, we must not forget the burden and sacrifice that continues to be borne by our local healthcare heroes. Exhausting 12-hour shifts filled with full wards of very sick patients, strict safety measures, and a constant feeling of fear or grief has become the norm for our healthcare workers. Their schedules are demanding and their needs are often overlooked for the good of the patients under their care. Conversation with a local ICU physician regarding the current state of managing Covid-19 at our local hospitals prompted attorney P.J. Scheiner to want to do something to help those who are working so hard to help us. After speaking with Lee Health, Scheiner reached out to a family friend who owns Pop’z BBQ and Catering to help facilitate feeding our hardworking healthcare heroes fresh and delicious barbeque right off the smoker at Gulf Coast Hospital over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Facilitated by Lee Health, Pop’z BBQ and Catering, and Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, healthcare workers at Gulf Coast Medical Center were offered free, fresh, and delicious barbeque in the hospital parking lot. “While most of us enjoyed the holiday with family and friends, our community healthcare workers continued to do their lifesaving work in the halls of our local hospitals and outpatient clinics,” said Scheiner. “It was our way of letting them know we’re thinking of them and to say thank you for the work they are doing to keep us all healthy and safe.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the healthcare system like never before. Variants, increases in cases, demanding workloads, the psychological effects of losing patients, and the risk of catching and bringing the disease home to friends and family has healthcare professionalsphysically and mentally fatigued. As recently as August 30, Gulf Coast Medical Center’s 52 bed ICU was completely filled with over 90% of ICU patients being diagnosed with Covid-19. Overall, all of Lee Health’s ICU’s were 98% full.
During the event, Pop’z BBQ served more than 200 Lee Health employees. Gabriella Varney, the events and marketing coordinator for Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, had the opportunity to stay and talk to each staff member that came by. Many of them spoke to her about their workday and how overwhelmed the emergency room and cardiac units have been due to Covid. They also would relay what they had in their fridge for dinner, or what they had brought to work to eat: Doritos, soda, and vending machine fare.
“I learned so much about what they are going through right now, and when they saw us in the parking lot, it completely changed their whole evening. Going to the grocery store, or even taking a break to eat has been the last thing on the minds of our healthcare heroes,” Varney said. “We were able to help make a difference in such a simple way. You don’t generally think that providing a meal to somebody – who could otherwise afford it – can make such a difference. You could just see excitement on their faces, and relief.”