Town honors Farragut’s hometown hospital

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

Last Thursday, the town of Farragut recognized the staff at Turkey Creek Medical Center with a proclamation from Mayor Ron Williams, a noisy parade of emergency vehicles, and free ice cream. The community pitched in by showering the hospital campus with homemade signs of support. Tennova East CEO Tony Benton applauded the staff for their professionalism, teamwork and compassion, and sunshine and blue skies punctuated the festivities.

The event was planned in conjunction with Nurses Week, May 6-12, and Hospital Week, May 10-16. It was a feel-good day, even for those of us who weren’t receiving the appreciation, in a season that’s been short on good feelings.

The idea to recognize the hospital staff came from Alderman Drew Burnette. He sells surgical equipment to hospitals, so he’s around healthcare workers more often than your average healthy person.

He was struck by the idea that while his family is at the greatest risk of COVID-19 exposure at the grocery store, hospital personnel face risk all day, every day. In addition to that, they have to take precautions to protect their own families when they come home.

“It made me realize that while my ‘normal’ life has been inconvenienced, these healthcare workers have had their lives flipped upside down. Yet they selflessly go to work every day, risking their health and lives as they care for patients. I can’t think of more worthy people to honor and celebrate,” Burnette says.

Chief Nursing Officer Travis Simmons said it was an emotional event.

“For me, today, the community embraced us. We get to embrace them, as part of our jobs, all the time, so this was amazing. We love this community, and we could feel the embrace.”

Wanda Crider, chief quality officer at the hospital, said she was so touched by the signs when she came to work that she drove slowly through the parking lot to take them all in.

“I think this has really made people aware of the nursing profession – how important we are,” she says.

Travis says the biggest challenge for nurses during the COVID-19 crisis has been the restriction on visitors. It’s been profoundly difficult for families to be separated from their loved ones who are in the hospital, and nurses have stepped up to make sure that families receive regular communication about patients, either by phone or video chat.

“We had to keep patients at the center but care for families, too.”

At the same time, nursing staff faced reduced hours while the hospital census was low due to discontinued elective procedures. Now that elective surgeries have resumed, nurses are returning to full time.

“This rejuvenates us,” Wanda says of the town’s show of appreciation. “We want to be back at work!”

Both agree that the hospital staff is closer and stronger than it’s ever been.

“These are my brothers and sisters, and we’re on the front lines together,” Travis says.

Hats off to the Farragut healthcare workers who risk their personal safety to stand on the front line. You provide comfort as well as healing, and we won’t forget the important role you played during this difficult time. Thank you.

Town of Farragut public relations and marketing coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider.

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