West Chester Hospital’s frontline healthcare workers grateful for anonymous ‘thank you’ notes

“The level of just selflessness, like, ‘Hey we’re thinking of you,’ or, ‘Hey we thank you,’ ...It means so much.”

Local nurse feeling hopeful, inspired by support during COVID-19 pandemic

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Healthcare workers nationwide have been dealing with unprecedented challenges throughout the pandemic, but one local nurse says despite the sadness and despair, she has felt supported and inspired.

Wednesday marked one year since Colbey Coombs became a registered nurse, or an RN, at UC Health West Chester Hospital. She says her first year in the profession has been a rollercoaster ride.

Coombs currently works in the stepdown intensive care unit, or ICU, where she treats people who need critical care. She said some of them are fighting COVID-19.

“The hardest part, at the beginning especially, was the uncertainty. There was much to this that we did just didn’t know,” Coombs said. “What you see on social media, as hard as it is to see, as hard as it is to read and imagine, it is real. FaceTiming families and talking on the phone and standing at the window, all of that is real.”

Throughout the pandemic, Coombs and her co-workers have had to work long hours and pick up extra shifts, all while wearing full PPE, or personal protective equipment.

Coombs says it has taught her how to really take on the role of caregiver.

“It can prepare you to deal with the things that we deal with as a nurse and in the healthcare field, you know, holding a patient’s hand in their last minutes,” Coombs said. “A lot of times [when patients came in] they were alone, so it was them putting so much trust into us and kind of us being like a lantern or a light guiding them and everybody else through the darkness.”

So far, Coombs says she has witnessed many heartbreaking moments, but she has also felt joy and gratitude.

“This is something that can get emotional, but I’ve had so many patients that I’ve taken care of that there’s just so much going on, and there’s so much fear and so much uncertainty, but I’ve had patients write me letters. I’ve had patients draw me pictures,” Coombs said.

Coombs and her colleagues support each other, but say kindness has come from outside sources too. Recently, anonymous thank you notes showed up on vehicles in the employee parking lot.

“There were two of them. There was a picture of flowers, and then there was just a really nice note saying, ‘Thank you,’” Coombs said. “The level of just selflessness, like, ‘Hey we’re thinking of you,’ or, ‘Hey we thank you,’ ...It means so much.”

The thank you notes did not include any names, but some of them did imply that they came from local students.

Coombs wants whoever they are from to know she and her fellow healthcare workers are thankful.

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