All around Ladysmith, businesses and residents have decorated their property with hearts and messages of appreciation for frontline workers. Each night at 7:00 pm, the community cheers for health care workers to show their support.
Ladysmith Community Health Centre leader, Sarah Westgate, says health care workers are feeling the love and support.
“It’s absolutely been incredible. I think Ladysmith is known to be a tight-knit community, and there’s always a sense that the community knows us, they feel comfortable here, we have a good connection with our home community,” Westgate said.
Westgate drives up to Ladysmith from Mill Bay every day, and on her way into town she sees the sign at McDonald’s thanking frontline workers for their service. Sometimes staff take short walks to get fresh air, and notice the home decorations and messages of support.
“If you go around Ladysmith there’s so many homes with hearts in the windows, it’s really touching,” Westgate said. “I went for a short walk and someone had taken some bright pink chalk and wrote a big thank you at the entrance to our parking lot.”
“Those are little things, but they really help us to feel that the support is alive and it’s there.”
The LCHC has put in precautions and additional screening measures to ensure patients and staff are protected from COVID-19 exposure. Westgate said that the patients have been supportive of those measures.
“People seem appreciative of those changes. It feels like we’re having more conversations about the state of the world, and the changes happening everywhere. I think it’s intensified some of those existing positive relationships we had with people,” she said.
Westgate does not work until 7:00 pm, so she hasn’t been at the LCHC during the community cheer. However, she has been told that nurses in urgent care do hear the nightly cheers. Staff are isolating at home when they are not at work, so even if they are not physically present, they still see the support on social media.
Another point of encouragement is early evidence that B.C. provincial guidelines on social distancing and other preventative measures are flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections. These next few weeks will be critical in determining whether the measures are having their intended effect.
“In an indirect way, we’re feeling supported by that fact,” Westgate said.
Businesses, community organizations, and individuals have called the LCHC with offers of support. The Rotary Club donated 2,000 gloves to the LCHC, Panago Pizza delivered free pizzas to LCHC staff, and a community member offered a suite in his home for a health care worker to live for free during the crisis.
Westgate said the best possible thing people can do to support the LCHC is to listen to provincial guidelines on reducing the spread of COVID-19.
“People are doing their job by washing their hands, and keeping their physical distance. If people can toe the line and continue taking those measures that are really helping us, that’s a concrete way to help,” she said.