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'We Stand with Them'

December 7, 2020
The pandemic shined a bright light on healthcare workers and their essential role in maintaining the health and safety of communities. Dianna Newton, a literacy coach at the SEED School of Maryland and a 23-year veteran teacher, felt the generosity, kindness, patience and humanity of these workers throughout her 18-month cancer treatment five years ago. So, when she saw healthcare workers across the nation struggling with the coronavirus and its effects, she felt a kinship with them and knew she had to do something.

"Like education, I believe healthcare is oriented toward service for the greater good. It was just incredibly moving to me to see the ongoing courage of healthcare workers. Beyond the personal connection and gratitude I feel toward GBMC, that's why I decided to give, because of their sacrifice," Dianna said. "I love GBMC and have great clarity around the fact that, had it not been for the consistently excellent care I received, I probably wouldn’t be here. When I saw the email come through to support the HealthCare Workers Fund, I just absolutely wanted to do what I could to help."

Dianna Newton, grateful patient, in 2015 following treatment for cancer
Dianna Newton, grateful patient, in 2015 following treatment for cancer
Dianna initially made an in-kind gift of coffee and supplies to the frontline workers at GBMC, but since April, has been part of GBMC's recurring gift program. The significance of supporting frontline workers on a monthly basis means GBMC can forecast its ability to support employees and plan on ways to aid as many as possible.

COVID-19 has impacted employees directly and indirectly. The HealthCare Workers Fund has allowed GBMC to reinvigorate the Employee Hardship Fund. In the first month, applications were submitted and – because of generous gifts given to the HealthCare Workers Fund – the organization helped two employees pay overdue bills, relieving stress and preventing repossession of the vehicle they relied on.

"It's important to me that frontline workers to know there are members of the community who stand with them and who support them and recognize the sacrifice," Dianna said. "I believe our society suffers from an incredibly short attention span. We lose sight of the day-to-day impact of having to get up and prepare yourself to go into your respective facility where you have people who are infected with COVID-19. And because it's a novel coronavirus, it's still new.

"There are so many parts of it that are unknown, and to think that we have healthcare workers who still continue to show up every day in the face of these challenges, in spite of their fears, I find that incredibly moving."

There have been countless stories since March of GBMC physicians, nurses, and other workers who continue to show up with positive attitudes and the commitment and dedication to take care of the community, despite the shift in their day-to-day workflow and the stress of handling the virus. Close to 750 donors have contributed more than half a million dollars to support GBMC HealthCare workers during this time.

These frontline workers don't expect praise and recognition for their hard work, but they have been grateful and touched by the community's generosity.

"It's especially important to support healthcare workers because, as far as I'm concerned, they're the bulwark against complete oblivion with regards to this pandemic," Dianna said. "We need to be doing, not only everything we can to support them financially, but even something as small as honoring physical distancing guidelines and consistently wearing a mask to make sure that you don’t end up overburdening an already potentially stressed system. These actions are ways you can stand in solidarity with healthcare workers and support them.

"I am an educator and a voracious reader, so I've done a fair amount of reading about the 1918 pandemic. It's sort of stunning to read and see the ways in which history is unfortunately repeating itself. I think that we’ll be dealing with COVID-19 for a much longer haul then necessary, but I have committed to doing all that I can to help."

To support GBMC employees during this unprecedented time, visit www.gbmc.org/donations.
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