People park at WellStar to show appreciation for healthcare officials

Published 5:36 pm Monday, March 30, 2020

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Hundreds of people participated in circling WellStar West Georgia Medical Center in prayer on Saturday.

The special event was meant to recognize the work the entire hospital staff is doing to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

People parked in the parking lot, stopped along the side of the road surrounding the hospital and drove in circles, holding up signs and yelling “thank you” toward doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. They practiced social distancing by staying in their vehicles.

“The number of people that came out and made signs was unbelievable,” said Kim Skiff, one of the organizers. “People had 24-hour notice. It’s the power of Facebook.”

The hospital staff designed its own signs and yelled back, thanking the community for all of its support. Some stood on WGMC’s roof, while others walked around waving at everyone.

“That’s the thing that blew me away when I got there. I must’ve said that over and over 50 times. I said, ‘they are thanking us?” Skiff said. “What we’re doing is nothing in comparison to what they are doing and what they’re going to have to continue to do.”

Skiff and Deedee Siggers organized the event by starting a Facebook page. Skiff said she expected 50 people to show up, but by Saturday morning hundreds of people had signed up to participate. They quickly worked to change the route around the hospital to make sure the emergency room wasn’t blocked, and to ensure there was enough room for all of the vehicles.

WellStar worked to get employees to move vehicles, so more of the general public could park.

“We think about the nurses, and we think about the doctors, but we forget about the administrative people at the hospital, the custodians at the hospital,” Skiff said. “I mean everybody that has to go in there and risk getting the virus and then take it home to their family. It’s such a selfless job.”

Skiff said she and Siggers are giving all of the credit to the community for the event, as so many came together to make it the powerful message it was.

Coleman Foss, president of WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, said it meant a lot to the hospital staff. He spoke during the city’s roundtable on Monday morning.

“You have no idea how impactful that is for our staff. Our staff has stepped up to the plate and has done a tremendous job, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say there’s fear,” Foss said. “They have loved ones at home and they don’t want to be exposed to anything that could potentially be harmful. To have the community show the level of support that they did and the magnitude of which that support was — it was really heart-rendering for so many staff members.”

Foss said WellStar had a staff member who was very tired Saturday night after caring for a COVID-19 patient all day and was almost at her wits-end in terms of whether or not she wanted to continue.

“That emotional support shown by the community was so awe-inspiring for her that she said ‘I’m in this to serve other people, and that’s why I got into the profession of medical to begin with’” Foss said. “From the bottom of my heart, a sincere thank you to everybody for doing that.”