Honoring healthcare workers in north Iowa with dedication of 'Healer's Touch' statue

As part of National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week, MercyOne North Iowa is dedicating a 'Healer's Touch' statue, honoring those who have put their lives at risk to take care of others during the pandemic

Posted: May 10, 2021 11:12 PM
Updated: May 11, 2021 6:47 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Those in the healthcare field have been on the frontlines of the pandemic from the very start. For those at MercyOne North Iowa, a new statue is being dedicated for those who have put in hard work over the course of the last year.

At the start of the pandemic, Director of Critical Care and Nursing Administration Emily Orton says there was some concern about what the community would look like if hit by the virus, not being able to anticipate how sick patients could be, and how hospital staff would respond to the challenge, especially if people tested positive or experienced symptoms and lead to a staffing shortage.

"Our senior leadership did a phenomenal job of making sure we had what we needed. We had ordered 50 cappers helmets, new isolation gowns. Travelers were coming to us saying, 'you have great PPE, we're going to stay!'"

Director of Women's and Children's Services Linda Latham says a lot of careful thought, consideration and planning went into developing plans to adhere to CDC guidelines.

"Our quality here at MercyOne is so high, and we didn't want anything to jeopardize that."

Throughout the last 14 months, Orton and Latham say it was truly a team effort to get through the worst of the virus' impact, including the October surge.

"There were people from the cath lab who helped linen, fold laundry to help meet that demand. People from interventional radiology came and worked in our supply chain, helped meet the needs of us needing supplies. Respiratory therapy, nursing, our providers, dieticians," Orton says.

"It was a multi-disciplinary team, our whole house helped," Latham adds.

As part of National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week, a Healer's Touch statue was dedicated outside the hospital Monday afternoon. It honors the countless hours and sacrifices healthcare workers have made since the start of the pandemic. The statue was hand carved out of a 350-lb. rock by an artist from the Shona tribe of Zimbabwe, and will be on display in the hospital's front lobby.

Chief Nursing Officer Kim Chamberlin says the idea for the statue came from a smaller version of a statue that's issued to nurses during the monthly 'DAISY' award.

"It's a symbol of what all our colleagues do. They're all such healers, and they're all so compassionate and dedicated. I got to thinking, 'we've got to do something to commemorate this year', and we need something we can, touch, see, and can say, 'we survived.'"

Echoing Latham's comments, Chamberlin says it took a collaborative effort.

"They knew what they had to do, and they did it. They did so much more than just doing it. They showed up every day, they put their own personal lives at risk, they put their own personal fears at risk. They took care of our patients. They came from the clinics, every nook and cranny of the hospital when we hit our surge in October. They are truly heroes, in my mind. We could not have survived without them."

However, Chamberlin notes that we need to take care of our healthcare workers.

"There's already studies of the effect this will have on healthcare. It could be close to PTSD, like being on a battlefield. And it was. We really have to take care of them now, and make sure they're OK."

As to the future of what the hospital workforce may look like? Latham and Orton say it's getting better, thanks in part due to vaccinations increasing,

"Is there ever going to be a normal? I don't know. I feel it's gotten a lot better since we got vaccinated. We're providing the same PPE for our COVID patients, so that hasn't changed. Now, it's second nature. It does feel better," Latham says.

"As time moves on and we know more about the virus, if we have someone who has tested positive twice in the last 90 days and they're not symptomatic, we know we don't have to start over with the 14 days of isolation again. As we know more about the virus, I really hope more of the community will get on board to get vaccinated," Orton says.

During the dedication ceremony, MercyOne North Iowa President Rod Schlader noted that about 1,000 people that came to the hospital for COVID-19 symptom treatment have been successfully discharged over the last 14 months.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 609387

Reported Deaths: 7743
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1262491796
Ramsey52997910
Dakota47216475
Anoka43200465
Washington27664296
Stearns22659227
St. Louis18245319
Scott17686139
Wright16518153
Olmsted13503103
Sherburne1212396
Carver1073749
Clay829692
Rice8249111
Blue Earth769944
Crow Wing687999
Kandiyohi669885
Chisago626954
Otter Tail590087
Benton585198
Goodhue485574
Douglas477781
Mower477533
Winona463552
Itasca462768
Isanti445566
McLeod434261
Morrison427762
Beltrami410163
Nobles409850
Steele400719
Polk390772
Becker389157
Lyon365054
Carlton356958
Freeborn350734
Pine337323
Nicollet334045
Mille Lacs314856
Brown308640
Le Sueur299527
Cass288133
Todd288133
Meeker265444
Waseca240723
Martin236933
Roseau212221
Wabasha20833
Hubbard197741
Dodge18943
Renville183146
Redwood178141
Houston175416
Cottonwood168124
Wadena165023
Fillmore158910
Faribault156920
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec147828
Sibley147310
Aitkin139237
Watonwan13619
Rock129019
Jackson123112
Pipestone117126
Yellow Medicine115320
Pope11396
Murray107310
Swift107318
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89217
Marshall88817
Lake84320
Wilkin83813
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4037
Traverse3815
Lake of the Woods3474
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
Pocahontas86822
Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
Decatur6629
Fremont64810
Ringgold56824
Van Buren56718
Wayne56323
Audubon52913
Adams3494
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