A Christmas like no other

December 22, 2020 Providence News Team









Romelia Navarro, right, is comforted by nurse Michele Younkin as she weeps while sitting at the bedside of her dying husband, Antonio, in St. Jude Medical Center’s COVID-19 unit in Fullerton, Calif., Friday, July 31, 2020. Antonio was Younkin’s first COVID-19 patient to pass on her watch. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

No matter how hard things have gotten this year, what gives me hope is this. While many things in our lives have been cancelled due to COVID-19, the sacred encounters between our caregivers and patients are not one of them. If anything, the love and compassion that infuse our Mission are stronger and more palpable than ever before.

Nearly 2,000 people with COVID-19 are spending Christmas in our ministries this year, hospitalized, vulnerable, and isolated from family and loved ones. But thanks to our caregivers, they are not alone. Our patients are surrounded by the healing love of Providence.

At a time when people have lost so much and don’t know who to believe anymore, our communities know they can always count on us. To every caregiver in our inpatient settings, clinics, outpatient centers, home and community settings, and administrative areas
, thank you for answering the call to respond to the pandemic. Thank you for not giving up when people have needed us most. And thank you for mustering every ounce of your expertise and determination, so that our patients can have a fighting chance against COVID-19. Please know you are not alone either. Providence has added or extended a number of caregiver benefits and mental health resources to support you during this time. 

The vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna have been a welcome Christmas gift. To date, we have offered our initial doses to 75,000 of our highest-risk caregivers, with 13,000 vaccinations already administered and 32,000 appointments scheduled. Thank you for your patience as we follow CDC guidance to start with those directly on the front lines. We anticipate being able to offer the vaccine to every caregiver eventually and will be reaching out to individuals when they become eligible. 

It has been inspiring to see how our teams have honored the sacredness of this moment. While our vaccination clinics offer the physical shot in the arm, many are also offering a blessing for protection and the strength to keep going, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Thank you to everyone who has made our vaccination effort possible while also honoring it for the momentous occasion that it is.

Even with the vaccine, we still have a few hard months to go. And some of our hospitals, especially in Southern California, are currently experiencing crushing volumes. Let’s keep one another in our prayers and continue to find ways to support each other. Thank you for everything you’ve done to get us this far. The good news is the end is now in sight. Until then, stay safe. Keep up with the masking, social distancing and handwashing. And may you all have a blessed holiday season and a better, brighter New Year.

Rod Hochman, M.D.
President and CEO

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