A card from three-year-old Alex says Kootenay Lake Hospital staff are real-life superheroes. One from Jemma, Lisa and Charlie thanks them for working so hard. Another suggests they take well-deserved naps.
On Thanksgiving, approximately 150 cards were delivered to the Nelson hospital. Some were homemade, others included handwritten messages signed by entire families.
“The kindness you show to our community does not go unnoticed,” reads one of the letters. “Thank you for your bravery, commitment and care. We’re stronger because of you.”
The letters, an impromptu rally of support organized by Morgan Cowan and Liz Babcock for the city’s hospital, were an unexpected morale boost for staff.
As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches Year Two, health-care workers once celebrated with the banging of pots and pans have become critical of protests held against provincial vaccine mandates as cases rise in intensive care units.
That’s led to community support not always being felt inside hospitals.
When the letters arrived at KLH, they were distributed throughout staff lunchrooms.
Erin Roulette, a registered nurse in the maternity ward, said she couldn’t believe the volume of messages from Nelson residents.
“When we saw all these cards, we just kept reading them and crying and laughing,” said Roulette. “We’re just so moved by all the heartfelt comments that were put onto each one, just given how hard it’s been for the hospital, for the community.”
Registered nurse Caroline Sumner said she could see an immediate change in her colleagues as the letters were read.
“You just see a bounce in people’s step. You just see people talking about happy things in their lunchrooms rather than all the hard stuff that’s going on as well. It’s just sort of allowed us to talk about positives and I think it’s just propelled us.”
Cowan said the cards were collected over a week at her family’s business Cowan Office Supplies. At one point her husband Paul had to keep asking her to pick up the letters because he had no room for them.
“I think a lot of it was we felt all along, Liz and I, when we were deciding to do it was both to be uplifting for the workers at the hospital, to bring a reminder that their community really cares and is grateful, and simultaneously to get the people of Nelson who wanted to show that they felt that way something to do.”
That much is clear looking over the letters. Some feature pictures drawn by children, others adorned by carefully crafted artists.
Sumner says staff plan on creating a mural out of the cards so they might be shared with patients.
“We’ve heard a lot of loud voices in protests lately and these are all the wonderful, quiet voices sitting at home who are just working hard and thinking of us and sending us love,” said Sumner.
“It’s a mosaic, as is Nelson, and all these cards, they just represent it really well.”