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This one’s for you, health care heroes

COEUR d’ALENE — For more than two years, health care workers have been on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19.

It took a toll then, and still does today.

“It has been hard on everyone,” said Lindsey Etchison. “Everyone is tired. We’re still going, but it’s been hard.”

This is why Saturday morning’s “Healthcare Heroes” event at The Coeur d’Alene Resort was a welcome boost for Kootenai Health employees and family.

“It feels special. We kind of get our own time that is set aside for us,” said Etchison, who works in the neonatal intensive care unit at Kootenai Health. “For everyone to get together, this helps.”

Etchison, husband Brian and their children, Jane and Miles, attended the gathering, where they enjoyed a visit with Santa Claus, hot chocolate and viewing of the entries in the 34th annual Festival of Trees.

About 1,000 people registered for Healthcare Heroes. It was a chance to relax in a peaceful setting, spend time with colleagues outside of work and kick off the holidays.

Kids seemed especially in the Christmas spirit.

“As you can see, there’s a number of well-sugared and happy children,” said Cara Nielsen, president of the Kootenai Health Foundation.

Nielsen said the foundation has organized celebrations for Kootenai Health staff in the past, but not since COVID-19 arrived in North Idaho in early 2020.

With a chance to bring Healthcare Heroes back this year, they did. All Kootenai Health staff — doctors, nurses, administrators and housekeeping — were invited.

“We want to give a special thank you to every single employee of Kootenai Health for all of the hard work they do every day,” Nielsen said.

Tolli Willhite, a 20-year Kootenai Health employee, works in communications and marketing. She appreciated the foundation’s efforts.

“It means a lot that they included families today,” she said. “It’s fun to see people outside of work.”

Willhite brought her family along, and they enjoyed the hot chocolate and trees. There was only one problem.

“I can’t quite talk my teenage boys into sitting with Santa, but I’m still working on it,” she said, laughing.

Justin Schorzman is a service manager with Kootenai health and has worked there for three years.

“I think it’s amazing we have a day for our staff, our employees, to come enjoy the sights, the sounds, Santa,” he said. “All the hard work we put in, it’s nice to feel appreciated.”

Source : CDA Press