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How to give back to health care workers

Health care workers devote their lives to helping people stay healthy and recover from injury and illness. While their efforts are instrumental all of the time, doctors, nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists, and everyone who works in the medical field has been put to the test in recent months due to the COVID-19 virus.

After months on the front lines fighting COVID-19, health care workers may appreciate the support of the public theyÕre treating and protecting. The following are some of the many ways individuals can give back to the brave men and women who work in the health care industry.

• Donate supplies. Personal protective equipment, or PPE, may be more readily available now than it was at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, but crucial N-95 respirators and other gear still may be hard to come by. Organize a collection of materials that residents do not need and drop them off at hospitals if they are accepting supplies. Graduates who may not have been able to don their graduation gowns can donate those to health care workers to use in place of surgical gowns, if those are in short supply at community health centers and nursing homes.

• Cater a meal. Health care workers are often working around the clock to provide care to critical patients. Twelve-hour shifts and beyond may be the new normal, which can make opportunities to grab a bite to eat scarce. Work with a local restaurant or food supplier to provide meals. Consider foods that are portable and can be readily eaten on the go, like sandwiches, bagels or finger foods.

• Provide accommodations. Health care workers from around the country may temporarily relocate to work at facilities that need extra manpower. Other workers are afraid to bring viruses, particularly COVID-19, home to their families, and need alternative accommodations. This means workers may not have places to stay other than whatever hotel rooms are around or open Ñ an expense that can quickly add up. Residents can team up with doctors, nurses and aides in need and provide free rooms in their vacation rentals, unoccupied rental units, unused recreational vehicles, or even in their own homes.

• Purchase gift cards. In lieu of direct food donations, offer health care and essential workers gift cards to various dining establishments. This enables them to get treated to a meal, but also provides much-needed revenue for area restaurants that have seen their profits decline due to closures or restricted meal services.

Various gestures can let area health care workers know their sacrifices and heroic efforts in the fight against COVID-19 are not going unnoticed.