The images of frontline healthcare workers are now common. The stories are inspiring. Every day for months, medical personnel and support staff mask up, gear up and do what they can to keep our community healthy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they are risking their own health to take care of ours.

Physicians and staff from the Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) Emergency Department are no exception.

Earlier this year, this selflessness was taken to a new level when, amidst their changing and often overwhelming duties related to the pandemic, the staff organized an effort to help those in need in our community.

This is a tradition that started in early 2019. In lieu of an annual physician recognition event by YRMC’s administration, emergency physicians and nurses and YRMC decided to join efforts to help other organizations in the community with significant need. The group jointly donated a total of $9,000 to Prescott Area Shelter Services, a local women’s shelter.

This year, the Emergency Department staff at YRMC East and YRMC West raised a total of $11,000. Their charities of choice were the Chino Valley Education Foundation Hungry Kids Project and the Coalition for Compassion and Justice (CCJ).

“There we were at the height of the pandemic, with everyone in the department wearing PPE, working under stressful conditions. We heard that there was a need to help children and the homeless population. We all wanted to help,” recalls Dr. Bill Resnick, a member of the YRMC Emergency Medicine Physicians group. “What is so impressive is the thought of these nurses and other staff with young families at home, wearing gowns, taking care of patients at the hospital, then going home and caring for their families. They’re still wanting to help other people.”

Hungry Kids Project

“Adequate nutrition is recognized as a common barrier that effects attendance, retention and academic achievement of students,” says Rich Spencer, Program Manager of the Chino Valley Hungry Kids Project. “Providing this basic need would remove that barrier. The Hungry Kids Project distributes 10,000 weekend meals each year to Humboldt Unified School District children, primarily in elementary school. With adequate nutrition, kids can return to school on Monday well-nourished and ready to learn.”

With children staying at home during the pandemic, it quickly became apparent that many of the families served by the Hungry Kids Project were in need of healthy meals throughout the week as well.

“Someone once said that whatever we possess becomes of double value when we share it with others. Looking at the difference the financial support the YRMC Emergency Department has made to our organization, I know that to be true,” Spencer says. “As a direct result of their donation, we were able to provide weekend food bags to 857 students which equates to 5,571 meals served. Additionally, we were able to provide groceries for 10 families that lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Coalition for Compassion and Justice

For some 20 years, the Coalition for Compassion and Justice has provided vital services, education, housing and advocacy to members of our community who live in poverty. The goal is self-sufficiency and an end to homelessness. With the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, their services became more relevant than ever.

“We could not have expected that front line workers in the emergency department would be thinking about our needs during a pandemic, in which they were experiencing some of the greatest impacts of this crisis,” says Jessi Hans, Executive Director of CCJ. “As we moved to stay open 24 hours a day to keep our clients safe and healthy, we needed the additional resources to respond to their needs.”

“We are grateful and still in awe of the generous donation from the staff at YRMC,” reflects Hans. “It is humbling and beautiful to feel that kind of heartfelt giving.”