Wednesday, August 18, 2021

An Open Letter of Support to Alaska’s Healthcare Workers

Dear Alaska's Healthcare Workers,

Doctors, nurses, therapists, aides, first responders, custodial staff and their families—please know that you are all so deeply appreciated, and very much needed in this moment. You may not hear this often enough, but someone should say it.

You’ve been at this for 18 months, and it has to be exhausting, demoralizing, and depressing. Surely this was not what you signed up for, and yet here we are. Just when it seemed like we were all catching a break, we’re being bludgeoned with another tidal wave of COVID. Politics and misinformation are making it harder than ever to do your jobs.

The Anchorage Daily News is full of story after story about ICU’s filled to capacity with soaring case rates, all amid social unrest and tension around vaccines and masking. It’s clear that all you’re trying to do is get through your shift at work and come home with your sanity and health intact at the end of the day. (Most of us are operating on a short supply of sanity, it feels like).

I’m sure it can be tiring and lonely to do what you do, even under normal circumstances; Alaska’s healthcare infrastructure was always fragile even before the pandemic. It has to be incredibly scary and frustrating, and I imagine many of you feel unsupported by state and local leadership that claims to value human life, but is happy to sideline science for political expediency and "personal choices."

I am sure it is not your first or personal choice to watch young adults die preventable deaths; nor is it your choice to work with a skeleton crew staff, all of which we know trickles down beyond the ICU to the rest of the healthcare system.

Many of us in Alaska see you and your hard work and suffering, and appreciate everything you are doing for us. You are rising to an unprecedented challenge never before faced by humankind. We have never had a pandemic in a world this small and connected. Keeping it contained likely feels like trying to stop a tidal wave with a Dixie cup.

But please know that you are seen, valued, and appreciated by so many of us here in this enormous but tiny state. Alaska is big enough to get lost in, but small enough to make a difference, and you are all making a huge difference every day. I'm reminded of a passage from the Talmud that always lifts me up when I feel like I am fighting a futile uphill battle:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. 
Do justly, now. 
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now. 
You are not obligated to complete the work
But nor are you free to abandon it.