August 16, 2021 | | Comments 0
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Looking back, looking ahead: Where did all the heroes go?

For those of you who have been watching this space for a while, it is probably a pretty good likelihood that you know that I (at times) have a tendency to reflect on the journeys of the past and this week’s conversation is no exception. To start things off, I would like to ask you to think about your response to the following multiple choice question.

In looking back over the past 12-15 months, I feel that I am:

a. Less appreciated than last year

b. Appreciated about the same as last year

c. More appreciated than last year

My hope is that your response is c. (for a whole host of reasons, more on that in a moment) and I also hope that that is the response for everyone in your organization. But somehow I suspect that my hope is not as widespread as perhaps it could/would/should be. Flip back to last year and the “rise” of the healthcare providers as modern-day superheroes (I would submit to you that heroism and healthcare have been joined at the hip since Hippocrates uttered his oaths); everyone had to come up with new and inventive ways to thank these awesome folks as social distancing became the order of the day. Signs, posters, videos, anonymous gifts—there was a whole lot going on last year.

In answer to the question posited in this week’s headline, the heroes are still here. They’re 12-15 months more exhausted than they were when they were everyone’s darlings, and, make no mistake, the siege that is COVID shows no signs of giving up or giving in to the ministrations of the folks on the front line.

But now, much as the weeks that follow the demise of a loved one and the crowds dwindle, not so much attention is being paid to the ongoing acts of heroism involved in getting by day after day. I know that part of the issue is that expectations have altered over time and now I fear that heroism has become taken for granted, which may be the worst “side effect” to this whole pandemic. The response of this nation’s healthcare workers was—and continues to be—nothing less than extraordinary, but the small kindnesses that were so freely shared last year just don’t seem to be in the mix these days, and they’re probably more important now than they’ve ever been. What you folks and your folks have done over the past 12-15 months is simply amazing, but in the day-to-day slog, somehow that perception of amazement has been lost to the news cycle or whatever attention grabbers have managed to wiggle their way into the social consciousness.

So, I want to thank each and every one of you in the studio audience for every big and little thing you do to keep your places in operation. You are all heroes and will continue to be for the duration and I take no small measure of comfort in knowing that you are out there doing the do, day in and day out. Just as we have “learned” to thank folks in the military for their service, as a nation, we should embrace that same philosophy for our healthcare workers. It’s the least we can do!

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Filed Under: COVID-19


Steve MacArthur About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with The Greeley Company in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Briefings on Hospital Safety. Contact Steve at

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