Upstate healthcare workers touched by support even as they calm fears

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(WSPA) – At a time when doctors and nurses are putting their own health on the line to save others, some Upstate healthcare workers have appreciated support from the public as they also try to calm fears.

Some of the stories are uplifting, like a group of well-wishers that formed outside Spartanburg Medical Center on April 5 with signs and chants thanking the staff.

Dr. Eli Chastain noticed the effort through the window and took a video that his wife, Michele, later shared on Facebook.

In that video he said, “I’m at the hospital in the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic, and there’s people out here at shift change giving thanks, which is a very nice thing. We appreciate it.”

Others have organized a red ribbon movement on Upstate trees to show support for healthcare workers.

But some medical staff said they have also seen people act out of fear when they appear in public.

We spoke with Sarah Matthews, an acute care nurse practitioner, who wants people to know healthcare workers are taking great precautions to make sure they don’t infect others when they leave the hospital.

“I would say from personal experience just be nice to healthcare workers,” Matthews said. “I mean we’ve had some doctors out in public in their scrubs get yelled at because I think people are afraid. So just be nice to people and assume that they’re not wearing contaminated clothing, and they’re not going to harm you.”

Matthews, who is also married to a critical care physician at Prisma Health, said many families of doctors and medical staff have had to make the difficult decision to live separately at this time, or sleep in different rooms to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“You’re at least trying to minimize exposure and sleeping in different bedrooms,” she said. “I think that’s pretty common with the people I talked with so far. The husbands are either quarantined to one part of the house, that’s pretty common I think for a number of our families, or they’re just living in different places.”

This can mean medical families are going for weeks at a time without seeing each other.

The Matthews, Chastains and many other Upstate families of healthcare workers said they are truly thankful to the people who support them and to those who are taking the social distancing mandates seriously to help slow the curve.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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