Area hospital making Thanksgiving a little easier for health care workers

Marshfield Medical Center in Beaver Dam is taking one thing off employees’ plate by giving them all Thanksgiving dinner.
Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 6:37 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 25, 2020 at 8:17 PM CST
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BEAVER DAM, Wis. (WMTV) - Many Wisconsin hospitals and health care workers are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, but one Beaver Dam hospital is trying to take some pressure off by making this Thanksgiving a little easier for its employees.

Angelia Foster is the chief administrative officer at Marshfield Medical Center in Beaver Dam. Foster said for months, her staff has been exhausted.

“Many of our employees are working doubles, they’re working the holiday,” Foster explained, adding, “It’s also taking a toll on their mental health.”

Foster said the hospital has more than double the number of patients they usually do this time of year. Sixty percent of those patients are hospitalized with COVID-19, and Foster expects that to rise.

“We know these people from the community, some of them are our relatives at times,” she said, explaining that takes a toll on employees’ emotional health as well.

This Thanksgiving, Foster and other hospital leaders wanted to give their staff something to look forward to.

“Our goal is to find as many ways as we can to lighten the load on the caregivers, so that they can keep taking care of our patients,” Foster said, adding, “If we take really good care of our employees, they’ll take really good care of our patients.”

Ahead of the holiday, food staff at the hospital put together pre-cooked Thanksgiving meals, including turkey, ham and plenty of sides and dessert. On Wednesday, employees picked up their meals, and all they have to do is heat it up at home.

“It relieves a lot of stress, especially since everybody has been putting extra hours in and double shifts,” said Tracie Frank, a hospital employee.

Frank works on making sure the hospital has enough supplies. During the pandemic, she has been extremely busy monitoring supplies of personal protective equipment. This Thanksgiving meal means cooking dinner is one less thing she has to worry about.

“You don’t have to prep, prepare. It saves a trip from going to the grocery store, which now, you feel safer because you didn’t have to go there,” Frank explained.

Like many people, Frank is not gathering with most of her family this year, but she will be sharing her food with her mom, who has not been going out because of the pandemic.

“I’m able to provide a delicious meal for her,” Frank said, adding, “Hopefully it will provide a sense of normalcy during a time when things are not as normal as we would like them to be.”

Foster said she hopes this takes some of the stress away from her employees. She said hospital administration is already thinking of more ways to help.

“Seeing them so excited to, ‘Hey, I don’t have to cook tomorrow, I just get to warm it up,’ really warmed my heart,” Foster said.

Foster also explained many of her employees took this as an opportunity to help the rest of their community. One employee picked up multiple meals to deliver to elderly members of her church, and other hospital departments volunteered to pay for and deliver Thanksgiving meals to employees out on family or medical leave.

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