‘We really are so grateful’: Fundraiser set to send meals to overworked hospital staff

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Ottawa’s critical care nurses have been overworked, overburdened and overwhelmed during this pandemic, but thanks to some local Good Samaritans, they won’t be under-appreciated — or under-fed.

As the pandemic’s third wave was hitting its crest in Ontario in late April, with COVID-19 raging through the community and with intensive care units stretched to capacity, friends Meaghan Lalande and Kirstin Graystone wanted to do something to support the people still fighting at the front line.

“One of my family members is an ICU nurse at the Montfort Hospital, and I can say the last month or two there have been very difficult for her, and for all the other nurses in the ICU,” Graystone said.

“We hear it in the news every day, but hearing it from her … it has been difficult for all these nurses. It’s already a hard job to do, they were short-staffed earlier (in the pandemic), and she says it’s scary now because she’s seeing younger patients being admitted with COVID now.

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“And most of the staff only have their first dose, so I think the last few months in particular have been very mentally and emotionally draining for a lot of these nurses.”

The two got together with an idea to raise money through a GoFundMe campaign to provide nurses with gift cards for meal deliveries from local restaurants.

The campaign took off on social media and word-of-mouth and in the first 10 days has raised about $6,000 in donations.

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The initial goal was set at a modest $1,500 for meals to be delivered to Montfort Hospital staff, but with the outpouring of support so far, Lalande and Graystone decided to up the ante.

They plan to fund the first round of deliveries to the Montfort next week, with meals set for three day shifts and three night shifts to cover as many staff as possible. The campaign will then extend in the following weeks to deliver meals to ICU nurses in each of the Civic, General and Queensway Carleton hospitals.

“We were trying to figure out a way to bring a smile to their faces, for at least some of the time. And who doesn’t love food being cooked and provided for you?” Graystone said.

“So we figured if we could deliver meals to the hospital for them to have while they’re working, then it might make them smile, at least for a bit of time, but it would also let them know that the community is supporting them.”

Lalande is managing the GoFundMe campaign, where she is hoping to surpass the latest goal of $6,500.

“We also know there are a great many other front-line workers who deserve our gratitude and recognition and support, but we can’t reach all of them, so we thought we’d reach out to this particular group who are providing such vital support and engaged in work that must be extremely difficult,” she said.

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“They are understaffed and overwhelmed while providing vital care to people in our community. And they’re doing it at great personal cost, and risk.

“We wanted to provide them with some appreciation and encouragement, and to send them that message that we as a community really do appreciate the sacrifice that they are making. We really are so grateful.”

GoFundMe link: Help support Ottawa ICU staff during Covid

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