Nason pays tribute to victims of COVID | News, Sports, Jobs

Conemaugh Memorial Nason Hospital Obstetrics Nurse Director Rita Notestine places an electric candle in one of the lightings as part of a COVID-19 commemoration program at the facility Tuesday afternoon. Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski

ROARING SPRING – Durbin Dixon paid a moving tribute to his late wife, Joann, during a light service held in memory of local COVID-19 victims at Conemaugh Nason Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon.

Joann, 78, died late last year from COVID-19. She and Durbin were married for 54 years and had three children.

Nearly 1,500 other families will suffer similar losses this holiday season, according to Tim Harclerode, CEO of Conemaugh Nason Medical Center.

“Each of those 1,432 people was the parent or grandparent, son or daughter, niece or nephew, friend, colleague or neighbor, and we recognize that this loss and grief is unimaginable for our community, especially as we are preparing to share traditional holidays with our loved ones ”, Elizabeth Dunmore, chief medical officer of Conemaugh’s health care system, said.

According to a press release, to date 553 people have died from COVID-19 in Cambria County, 421 in Blair County, 271 in Somerset County and 187 in Bedford County.

The lighting service was held at each of Conemaugh’s four medical centers. According to a statement, hospital staff have inscribed the initials of patients and the names of their relatives on luminaires, which will then be displayed by their establishments.

“It’s nice to think about all the lives that have been lost” Rita Notestine, a nurse at Nason’s maternity ward, spoke about the event. “There is more than we would expect in our region, and much younger. It’s difficult for all the nurses here.

In Nason, the light fixtures will be moved to the chapel and will be left there until the end of the year, Harclerode said.

During the service, Harclerode described the lightings as representing stars in the sky that people can use to continue to mourn, honor, recognize, and pay homage to those lost.

“In Genesis, the luminaries are referenced as celestial bodies of light”, said Harclerode. “The sun by day and millions of stars by night. So we think of the fixtures that are filled on the table here like that. “

The healthcare community was also honored at the event.

Head nurse Michelle Buttry said dedicated healthcare workers have sacrificed so much to keep their community safe.

Nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors and other hospital workers are often the only people spending time with people who are dying in their dying days, she said.

“They shed tears together and then reassured that their loved ones are there for them”, said Buttry. “The new duty of nurses is often to put a phone to the ear of a dying patient while family members say goodbye. “

Harclerode wanted to recognize how trying the past 20 months have been for everyone in the community. The change, especially across the healthcare continuum, has been difficult to bear, causing a lot of stress, anxiety and sometimes fear, he said.

“What I can tell you now is that there is a lot of trauma, a lot of stress in the health workforce, and it is real” said Harclerode. “We can feel it, we can see it in the eyes of staff, providers, patients and family members. “

Harclerode pointed out that as the holiday season approaches, it will be possible to ask family and friends if they are okay, assess their level of anxiety, help them and d ” be a listening ear and a resource.

“I encourage you all to take the opportunity to lift each other up, dig deep and look inside yourself and see if you need to lift yourself up and if you do, reach out. hand “ said Harclerode. “Don’t be the stoic, calm person around the corner that everyone depends on and you don’t depend on anyone else for anything.”

He urged the assembled healthcare workers to “Raise your hand, ask for help, talk to someone. “

“I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you to love more deeply, to see the world through different eyes now and to appreciate more” said Harclerode. “We have the opportunity, we are still here.”

Mirror writer Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.

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