Editorial: A card or letter could make a difference with those cut off from visitors because of COVID-19

We highlighted a story in our "In Other News" section recently titled "Season's greetings: Cards solicited for COVID-19 patients." And although the focus was on the holidays, the idea behind the story is unfortunately one that will have meaning for quite some time: sending cards and letters to those in the hospital who because of COVID-19 can't have visitors.

"Because of the plague, my wife can't come visit; all she can do is call and text," one man was quoted in that story. "It's pretty depressing."

"Then one day a small bit of cheer came his way," the story recounted. "Tucked next to the covered dish on his meal tray ... were two Christmas cards, handmade by local children, wishing him a speedy recovery and a happy holiday season."

"It was definitely a surprise," the man said of the two cards, one of which had plastic jewels glued to it. "It was really cute, and quite enjoyable, and it made me feel a little better."

"It was part of a wave of greeting cards being collected independently by hospitals this December for patients cut off from the support of visitors," the story noted. "It does not appear to have any central coordination; many hospitals just decided on their own that it would be a kind thing to do."

A story in today's newspaper outlines the experiences of three individuals in Georgia who have had COVID-19.

In that story, the Rev. Leela Waller of Kennesaw recounts her two times in the hospital, including this experience:

" ... you could hear moans and screaming. It was horrific. I thought about the people who may not have health insurance, and I thought about the health care workers, the people that were on the front lines."

Waller had been previously diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, putting her at a higher risk of a severe outcome from the virus. As she lay in the hospital bed, she asked God over and over "Why me?"

Reaching out to a person enduring such horror can be a small act, but one that may bring that person some peace of mind during such a traumatic experience.

Officials at Hamilton Health Care System are well aware of this.

As early as March, shortly after the devastating impact of COVID-19 began to become widely known in this country, Hamilton Health Care System, which operates Hamilton Medical Center and Regency Park, Ridgewood Manor, Quinton Memorial and Wood Dale Health and Rehabilitation, providers of senior living, rehabilitation and skilled nursing services, acknowledged through a staff member the beneficial effects of members of the community reaching out to patients and residents through cards and letters.

"We have restricted all visitation, including nonessential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations," Tyler Kendall, vice president, Post-Acute Care Services, said then. "We have canceled all group activities and communal dining for the safety of our residents. ... We are connecting our residents to their families through a variety of video conferencing platforms and telephone calls. Some of our residents prefer cards and letters and would welcome anyone sending them to our locations."

So here is something we can all do to brighten the day of someone who because of COVID-19 can't receive visitors, whether in a hospital or nursing home. The thoughtfulness of a card or letter may touch that person's heart at a time when that person is battling fear and/or depression.

Often it's the simplest acts that make the most difference.

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