Healthcare workers, officers and firefighters gather for heartfelt ‘thank you’ outside Hartford Hospital


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The heart of Hartford Hospital and the HealthCare System was emotional over the love and support showed outside his world-renowned care center.

“These are the heroes,” said Jeffrey Flaks, Hartford HealthCare CEO. “These are the people every day showing bravery, showing courage.”

Flaks said the resiliency of Hartford HealthCare’s staff and all of its health care workers is unbelievable.

“It’s always this way,” he said. “We can see it more clearly now than ever before.”

Doctors, nurses and hospital workers lined the front driveway of Hartford Hospital’s entrance all waving American flags and cheering with their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

The city’s fire department and police department were out in force with their vehicles and drove around the crowd to say a heartfelt thank you. Many of them made a heart with their hands.

Kathleen Gill, a respiratory therapist for more than 20 years, said she felt appreciated.

“This was just a positive reinforcement of everything that we do,” she said.

“Recognizing that we may be seeing the patients on the inside, but also knowing we have the support from the fire department, the police department, from the community overall is amazing to see it all come together,” Allison Vanderwiede, respiratory therapist.

The love not only felt on the ground, but up in the sky when a LifeStar helicopter flew over.

In the sea of medical scrubs, Holly Andrews, a respiratory therapist for 41 years, shed tears of joy. The celebration just happened to come on her last day; she is retiring.

“What you can do for patients and the people you work with…I’m overwhelmed really,” Andrews said.

She said coronavirus has ravaged her patients like nothing she has ever seen.

“I remember when AIDS came out and it was somewhat similar, but nothing like this and the way people have pulled together and the dangers they face and the unknown,” she said. “I have such respect for the people I work with.”

The emotional lows are outweighed by this much needed lift in spirits.

Jason Diaz, from the Hartford Fire Department, pulled the event together for the hospital.

“We are united; not only healthcare workers, firefighters, police officers, sanitation workers everyone, even you guys [media professionals],” Diaz said.

The action acted as a moment of solidarity.

“This is what we are here for,” Flaks said. “It’s why the bravery and the courage of every person working in this facility today are being recognized.”

It was a united front during a crisis — one that can not crush the heart of a dedicated community.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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