Hospital Employees Are Angels

There are angels, too, hidden in plain sight. There are a lot more of them than the devils I wrote about last week.

Sometimes, we fail to notice great evils in our midst, I wrote a week ago. Then, I was reminded they are greatly outnumbered.

Hundreds of people have been displaced from jobs at Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling. On Friday, some of them — who worked at the Hillcrest psychiatric unit — held a farewell get-together. Something one of the event’s organizers told our reporter bears repeating:

“It’s a goodbye, but also a celebration of what we’ve done,” said Martha Connors. “I want people to come there and be proud of the lives that they’ve touched … and proud of the work they’ve done in the group.”

Be very proud. You at OVMC and your sister hospital, East Ohio Regional in Martins Ferry, are angels who have touched more lives than you can imagine.

Changing a hospital bedpan, then cleaning up the patient who has just used it, may not seem like angels’ work to aides who have done it for years. The same goes for custodians who have to keep health care facilities cleaner than any kitchen counter, or for cooks who prepare nutritious, often tasty meals to order — then have to listen to complaints about “hospital food.”

Fighting with a mentally ill patient to keep him from hurting himself or others probably does not put one in an angelic state of mind. The Golden Rule may be the last thing about which a nurse fetching a spare pillow for a patient is thinking.

No doubt, though, OVMC personnel have sent forth fervent, heartfelt prayers: Please, Lord, help me save this woman’s life. Her children are just down the hall, and they’re counting on us.

OVMC has been part of our community since 1890. Its collapse and closure have saddened many people, for all sorts of reasons.

High on the list are the people of OVMC and EORH. Many of the more than 1,000 men and women employed by the hospitals will find other jobs. Many will not.

That hurts for two reasons: First, our extended community is losing the talents and dedication of hundreds of health care workers. Second, they are good people who deserve better out of life.

I wonder how many of them are children of the ’60s. Then, one of the top priorities was to make a difference. Health care professionals make an enormous difference.

Who can say how many lives they have saved, ranging from newborn babies who might not have made it without nurses and doctors determined to pull them through, to older people given years more to enjoy with their families?

Who can say how much it meant to the patient who needed someone to hold his hand when a nurse took his in hers? Who knows how much it meant to the family, distraught after being told a loved one had been rushed to the hospital, to be told by a custodian that he’d be happy to take them to the right nurses’ station?

Who knows how much of a difference OVMC and EORH employees have made in thousands of lives?

What we do know is this: There are angels among us — and as they leave their stations for the last time, they should be proud.

Very proud.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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