Tieman: A shout out to our health care workforce – Vermont Biz

by Jeff Tieman, President & CEO VAHHS Last week was difficult in the health care world, and left many of us searching for bright spots. Among the many ongoing challenges is a stressed health workforce constantly being asked to do more. But that same workforce is also the brightest of bright spots.


In March of 2020, when the pandemic took hold and our lives changed in so many ways, caregivers in Vermont and everywhere did what they instinctively do: They got up, went to work and continued to treat patients and deliver the best care they could.


That was no easy ask, either. Doctors and nurses had to wear extensive and uncomfortable PPE to keep themselves and their patients and families safe. At the end of a long shift, they changed clothes in their garages to keep germs out of the house. They worried about whether they were spreading a deadly and still-unknown disease to their spouses and kids. And they watched as ventilators became precious assets that everyone wanted and feared not having.


In the face of all that adversity, health care workers kept showing up. They demonstrated to the rest of us a powerful commitment and resilience. They showed what it means to love your job and do it with gusto even when the risk is greatest.


Now hospitals find themselves with full facilities and very sick patients. They are managing

capacity crunches and challenges with finding places to board or transfer patients, all of which puts more pressure on the people delivering care every day. And still, hospital and health care employees continue to show up day in and day out—taking extra shifts, covering in other departments, and providing higher levels of care than they do in more “normal” times.


As we navigate the workforce challenge and put it at the center of our advocacy agenda, let’s also remember to recognize and thank the people who make our health care possible. It’s as easy as thanking the nurse in your family (something I try to do every day) or sending flowers to the hospital employee who you know worked extra hours last week when staffing was tight.


It is not only clinicians to whom we owe our gratitude. It is also parking attendants and

cafeteria workers and custodial staff, electricians and technicians and delivery drivers and so many others who are also a major part of making our health care possible. So, there may be even more people to thank than you thought!


I hope we reach a world where the workforce problem is not so urgent or severe, but that day isn’t coming soon. Until then, let’s remember to be grateful for bright spots—the people who take care of us and have sacrificed so much to keep doing so.


Hope you had a happy Halloween!

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