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Jack Dusenbery


This Thanksgiving, the best thanks you can give a health care worker is to wear your mask

With Thanksgiving next week, it is the time of year we express our gratitude for the blessings in our lives. This year, we offer special praise to our care giving teams for their tireless dedication and unwavering commitment to caring for Iowans during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Statewide, cases are surging, and our teams are fighting hard to care for all patients, but the obstacles are mounting. There are a fixed amount of beds and resources available, which means more non-emergency procedures are being delayed in some locations.

We are also seeing more colleagues and providers testing positive, which creates additional concerns as we worry about their health and well-being. It is a challenge to ensure the right expertise, staffing and equipment is available where needed, which is especially true for our more rural hospitals and critical care facilities.

Our health care teams have worked tirelessly for months to provide safe, personalized care and comfort to critically ill patients. We are beyond proud of their work and to have them in our circle of care.

Like you, health care workers also want to return to normal life. But this will not happen until we come together to stop the spread of COVID-19. We ask you as health care leaders and fellow community members to follow four important steps to protect your health care workers and each other:

  • Wear a mask. They are effective at slowing the spread of infection, which is why our surgeons and providers have been wearing them for decades.
  • Keep your distance. Please keep a safe distance of at least six feet apart and avoid large gatherings.
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently. Every time you touch a surface that others touch, please use sanitizer or wash your hands.
  • Get your flu shot. Flu vaccines reduce the chance of getting influenza, lessen the severity of symptoms and may help keep you out of the hospital, leaving more beds available for the critically ill.

Throughout the pandemic, MercyOne has worked to address the health care needs of the communities we are privileged to serve. We quickly sourced personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessary equipment. We forged innovative partnerships, including our work with Corteva to rapidly expand testing. We opened Fever Upper Respiratory Illness (FURI) clinics and new testing sites to keep up with demand. None of which would have been possible without our amazing colleagues who have adapted to serve our special mission.

Our doctors and caregivers will continue the fight against COVID-19. However, this battle must be won on the home front — by each of us doing our part to control the spread.

So, this Thanksgiving, it’s not enough to just say thank you — show them you care by masking up, keeping your distance, washing your hands and getting a flu shot. Together, each of us can make a difference.

This column was submitted by Jack Dusenbery, president, MercyOne Northeast Iowa; Bob Ritz, president and chief executive officer, MercyOne; Beth Hughes, president, MercyOne Western Iowa; Karl Keeler, president, MercyOne Central Iowa; Rod Schlader, president, MercyOne North Iowa; Kay Takes, president, MercyOne Eastern Iowa.

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