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Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - Once more unto the breach: A salute to healthcare workers

(Image via Shutterstock)

By STHS Communications Department

As we all watch the COVID-19 coronavirus spread around the world, and the number of infected patients growing, it’s only natural to feel worry, concern, even fear. 

Our doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus battle feel those emotions, too. And, yet, they show up to work every day, determined to fight the fight – and to save as many lives as possible.

That selfless display of dedication and professionalism recently prompted Warner Thomas – the president and CEO of our partners at Ochsner Health New Orleans – to pen a letter to the editor of The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate in a salute to healthcare workers. 

In part, Thomas wrote:

“Fear is borne from uncertainty but can also be a catalyst for courage and inspiration. Over the last few weeks, I've seen fear in the faces of our nurses, providers, doctors and staff, and I've also seen an unwavering commitment to every patient who walks through our doors. Compassion for people calling with questions and concerns. Determination to care for people virtually when they can't come in person for appointments.

“I'm not surprised by this - I'm honored. These are the same men and women who cared for patients during and after Hurricane Katrina under unfathomable stress. People who volunteered on the front lines during H1N1 and Ebola.

“People who joined us after studying groundbreaking and innovative doctors and thought ''I want to do that too.'' People who choose to climb into the foxhole and decide to run toward the chaos, instead of running away from it.”

We couldn’t agree more with those sentiments – and we couldn’t be more in awe of the doctors and nurses leading the charge at St. Tammany Health System, at Ochsner Health and at healthcare facilities around the world. 

Below, find the full text of Thomas’ letter, published Tuesday morning (March 24). And if you know a healthcare worker, be sure to thank them, on behalf of all of us.

Stay focused on health to help our doctors, nurses, hospitals

In Louisiana and at Ochsner Health, unprecedented crises -- whether hurricanes, public health pandemics or personal disease diagnoses -- are part of our collective story. As health care providers, we take care of people when they need us most. And as our state faces COVID-19, that's exactly what we and our colleagues are doing.


Fear is borne from uncertainty but can also be a catalyst for courage and inspiration. Over the last few weeks, I've seen fear in the faces of our nurses, providers, doctors and staff, and I've also seen an unwavering commitment to every patient who walks through our doors. Compassion for people calling with questions and concerns. Determination to care for people virtually when they can't come inperson for appointments.


I'm not surprised by this - I'm honored. These are the same men and women who cared for patients during and after Hurricane Katrina under unfathomable stress. People who volunteered on the front lines during H1N1 and Ebola.


People who joined us after studying groundbreaking and innovative doctors and thought ''I want to do that too.'' People who choose to climb into the foxhole and decide to run toward the chaos, instead of running away from it.


We know COVID-19 is different, but we are the same. Standing with our community health care providers and partners, we are ready. And we'll get through this together, no matter how long it takes. It's a role that we choose and a mission that guides us.


And we're not facing this alone. Gov. John Bel Edwards, along with state health officials and our legislative delegation in Washington, are working tirelessly to provide the resources necessary to support the health care system in Louisiana.


Together, we are working around the clock to control, test and inform our communities. To our business and industry leaders, we understand how vital it is to get back to business and return to a normal state of affairs as soon as possible.


For our region, there will be an enormous impact on business and indescribable personal sacrifice.


And there will be fear. COVID-19 will change us. It will become part of our story. But as I look at the Ochsner team I am so honored to lead and learn from, I am confident that it will change us for the better.


As a country, and as a community, we will emerge stronger and more connected through our shared experience.


Thank you for allowing us to serve you through the good times, the bad and the uncertain. Thanks to our community for the sacrifices you are making for the greater good. And thank you to the healers and first responders who put their patients and communities first every day.

WARNER THOMAS
president, Ochsner Health New Orleans