Health care heroes deserve our thanks

Op-ed by Tracy Kraft-Tharp
Posted 9/22/21

Jefferson County has experienced nearly 50,000 COVID-19 cases. To put that into perspective, one in 12 people in our county have been infected by COVID-19 at one point over the last year and a half. …

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Health care heroes deserve our thanks

Posted

Jefferson County has experienced nearly 50,000 COVID-19 cases. To put that into perspective, one in 12 people in our county have been infected by COVID-19 at one point over the last year and a half. Just like rest of our country, this pandemic has brought fear, uncertainty, sadness, frustration, and anger to our communities. We have faced loss, grief, and panic in a way that we could have never expected. And as the Delta variant spreads, we must ensure that we continue protecting ourselves and our neighbors to prevent this from ever happening again.

Local ICUs treated hundreds of patients a day, however, Jefferson County adapted and pulled through, and much the reason is our dedicated health care heroes in hospitals, who showed up to work each day and put their own lives on the line to protect and care for all of us.

Our local hospitals and medical staff have always been a cornerstone of health and healing for communities across the nation — the pandemic just made it more apparent than ever. In all the years that I have lived in Jeffco, I have been proud of the services our doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff provide to patients, delivering robust choice and specialty services and allowing access for those who need it. It is one of the main reasons that supporting our hospital systems was a top priority of mine when I held state and local offices.

What’s more, support for local hospitals does not just mean better care for patients. While, of course, that is what is most important — as we saw with COVID-19 — it also means more support for the community. Hospitals are major job creators within our region, employing thousands of residents and paying millions of dollars in payroll and benefits. They are charity donors, contributing money and supplies in times of need, and they provide uncompensated care to those who are not able to pay for it. And none of this stopped during COVID-19.

In fact, many of our area hospitals went above and beyond their duties of caring for both COVID-19 patients and those suffering from other emergency conditions over the last year. Many hospitals shifted investment to frontline healthcare workers. For example, HealthONE provided bonuses to all full- and part-time employees and had no layoffs due to the pandemic. And area hospitals ramped up donations of protective supplies and funds to organizations working for COVID relief.

The care and support our health care heroes and hospitals continue providing the people of Jefferson County and the Denver area is nothing short of outstanding. They deserve our thanks and support now, as we navigate our way out of the pandemic, and beyond. Doing so will ensure that our communities continue receiving the most extensive care possible.

Tracy Kraft-Tharp is a Jefferson County Commissioner and former state legislator.

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