Public demonstrations have dominated the news in the last week but here in 100 Mile House a demonstration of a different kind was held on Saturday by members the 100 Mile House Hospital Employees Union (HEU) to thank the community for their support during COVID-19.
On Saturday, May 30 around a dozen HEU members gathered together by the side of Highway 97 with airhorns, signs and flags in hand, though the most important item to bring proved to be an umbrella. Despite the drizzle and cool conditions, spirits were warm as the gathered women began cheering and waving at passing cars spreading their message of thanks.
The event was organized by members of the HEU including Barb Matfin, Angie Hatch and Anna Tanner a trio of healthcare professionals with years of experience between them. Tanner works in support services which include housekeeping, laundry and dietary planning and serves as the chair of the local HEU, while Hatch works as a local care-aid and fills the role of secretary with Matfin taking the role of president when not serving as a cook at the hospital, though she herself is a trained care-aid. The local HEU has around 175 members Matfin said which includes hospital workers, Cariboo Mental Health Association employees, long term care facilities like Fischer Place and Millsite and a wide range of other professionals.
The trio said this event was to recognize the ordinary people of the 100 Mile Area who have supported them in a wide range of extraordinary ways from giving them free doughnuts, food and gas, making hats, masks and ear protectors for them, putting up hearts in the hospital window with positive messages, hotels for providing them rooms to stay, Chevron for giving them free gas and the general community spirit that’s helped them in the last few weeks.
It’s also to thank 100 Mile for being understanding about not being able to come to visit loved ones in health care facilities. That last one especially is tough they acknowledged, especially for those with connections to residents in long term care homes like Fischer Place where Hatch works as a care-aid.
“We’re the ones who see them every single day and we can’t give them a hug but we give them that pat on the hand and ensure them it’s going to be ok,” Hatch said. “We FaceTime with family members, take lots of phone calls and we just make it safe for them.”
Tanner added that HEU has had a long-running commitment to increasing awareness about the support that’s needed for seniors care and the health care workers that support them. Several of the HEU members were wearing shirts that said ‘Stand Up for Seniors’ an old campaign of the union designed to raise awareness of the underfunding of public institutions and the increasing privatization of the service in B.C.
Matfin said that part of the reason they organized the thank you demonstration was to let people know that hospital staff are made up of so many more people than just doctors and nurses. While of course the hospitals and other medical facilities couldn’t function without trained doctors and nurses, there are many other frontline workers who support them and facilitate there work.
“We all work together to make this work and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Tanner said.