Reflecting on the unpredictability and risk of working in health care during the pandemic, one staffer at People’s Health Clinic concluded that despite the stress, “I’m doing my job, and it’s what I love.”
That sums up the attitude of nurses, doctors, aides, techs and support staff we met this year. They could never work from home, close their doors or even know when their shift would end, but they were there 24/7, helping Summit County residents and families. Many even signed up to help in hard-hit areas as far away as New York.
Volunteers at the vaccination clinic at Utah Film Studios on Kearns Boulevard also showed us what genuine service means. Five hundred volunteers delivered more than 22,000 shots after Jan. 5, a rate so successful the clinic closed last week, months ahead of schedule. Health officials say 71% of Summit County residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated.
Equally effective was the Summit County Small Business Testing Program, which began in January and ran through April 30. Workers exposed to COVID were tested and, under state rules, could return to work after seven days of quarantine instead of 10 if they were negative and asymptomatic. The county tested and quarantined 458 willing workers, whose cooperation helped minimize the spread and “served the greater good of the community,” the county stated. Four hundred twenty people tested negative and returned to work quickly, reducing workplace absences by an estimated 16,800 hours.
Retiring county Health Director Rich Bullough deserves acknowledgment for programs like these. Rich stepped up when decisive leadership was needed, willingly accepting the occasional controversy. I wish him all the best when he retires in August. The deputy director, Dr. Philip Bondurant, selected by the Board of Health to succeed Bullough, is qualified, experienced and capable.
Here at the Chamber/Bureau, we searched for ways to thank our heroes, though our efforts were small compared to their contributions. In January, we partnered with the Health Department and 123 businesses to donate lunches at vaccination clinics. Together, we raised enough money to provide meals for 150 days.
The willingness of Park City businesses, too numerous to mention here, was very moving. They supported others during uncertain times for themselves and with no expectation of reward or recognition. That speaks volumes about their devotion to our community.
Some Chamber/Bureau partners preferred to donate goods or services, and the Health Care Heroes Project was born. We are grateful to the numerous companies that came together to contribute everything from free massages to rafting trip vouchers.
As we enjoy being together again at fantastic Park City events this summer, we should remember that our health care heroes always remain at the ready. “We haven’t always felt like heroes,” said one People’s Health Clinic worker. But I think I speak for us all when I say they have always felt like heroes to me.