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Employee Spotlight

VUMC front-line workers receive special delivery

Cards from local schoolchildren bring special greetings, including "You deserve 100 million candy canes."

by December 22, 2020

All photos by Susan Urmy

Santa isn’t the only one receiving handwritten letters from children this holiday season.

One of the hundreds of cards of support sent to VUMC by local children, this one from a student from Fairview, Tennessee.

Several bags filled with holiday wishes from Middle Tennessee elementary school students made their way to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, addressed to front-line workers.

“The appreciation and love shared with our nurses and medical staff from these young students is priceless beyond measure,” said Marilyn Dubree, Executive Chief Nursing Officer, VUMC. “We appreciate them and their teachers for recognizing our nurses and front-line workers.”

Robin Steaban, RN, MSN, right, and Marilyn Dubree, RN, MSN, NE-BC, Executive Chief Nursing Officer, left, deliver letters and holiday wishes  from local school children to front-line health care workers in COVID units at Vanderbilt.

On Christmas Day and night, dozens of front-line employees will be working in the VUMC COVID unit, foregoing time with family or friends, missing out on holiday celebrations, which is why this small gesture of kindness has a significant impact on those who will continue to care for COVID-19 patients well into the New Year.

To help boost morale for its staff, VUMC reached out to area school districts asking if their students would like to spread a little holiday cheer. Dickson and Williamson County schools, among the only districts still teaching in the classroom, responded in a big way, sending along a total of more than 1,300 letters.

Kathie Krause, Chief Nursing Officer at Children’s Hospital, and Andrea Hughies, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, were among those delivering letters and holiday wishes.

Students designed colorful holiday greetings, sharing notes of gratitude, drawing pictures for our staff, even telling a few holiday jokes and stating a few humorous opinions like one from a student at Westwood Elementary School in Fairview, Tennessee, who writes to our medical team, “Thank you for being so brave and faithful, front-line workers; you deserve 100 million candy canes – Merry Christmas!”

“Just to know that other people are thinking about what we’re going through and what our patients are going through because they understand that we’re helping people who are sick – it lifts our spirits,” said nurse practitioner Susan Hellervik, who works at Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital.

In December alone VUMC has treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients and the number of hospitalizations continues to rise.

“These patients are the sickest patients in the hospital, and they are very tenuous,” said Todd Rice, MD, MSc, associate professor of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine. “The condition of our patients changes quickly keeping our two teams very busy.”

COVID-19, coronavirus, Marilyn Dubree, Robin Steaban, nursing, Kathie Krause, Andrea Hughies, Susan Hellervik, Todd Rice, Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital, holiday