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Adopt a Nurse Ohio won’t provide you with an extra mom or dad, but it might connect you with a supportive virtual fairy god-parent. Frontline nurse Sydney Garringer lost her stethoscope and all of her Covid gear when someone broke into her car. Less than 10 hours later, a member of the Adopt a Nurse – Ohio Facebook group, asks, “Sydney, what your favorite color?” —and Sydney replies that most of her stolen equipment has already been replaced. The next morning, another member cheerfully complains, “I never got a chance to choose anything, your [Amazon Wish] list is empty now, are you sure you don’t need anything else?” The 1.9 thousand members of AAN Ohio are ready and waiting to ease the load of the state’s nurses and bring them good cheer.

PCT Heather Marie (from Adopt a Nurse Ohio post)

Patient Care Technician Heather Marie has been treating a growing number of Covid patients, but she’s determinedly positive: “I am continuing my medical dream and going to school to become a paramedic! …. I love what I do and I love knowing I am making a difference in my patient’s life! I work with some of the most wonderful nurses, techs, doctors, respiratory staff, therapists, housekeepers, and dietary staff. That’s one thing that keeps me sane during this time is the teamwork we have!” A group member fancies the dinosaur motif of the scrub hat Heather wears in the photo she posted. Another member sends her a pair of socks festooned with images of little medical clipboards, bandages, and nurse-related images.

April Higgenbotham—who has been an RN for 21 years—posted on the site less than a week before coming down with Covid. A member’s “goodie bag” arrived just in time to raise her spirits while she sat home in isolation from her family.

ICU nurse Brendan McQuown posts a heartfelt pean to his wife: “I am active duty and work in a COVID ICU…  My wife of 12 years has been a nurse for 10 years.  My hero is my wife.  She works, takes care of our basketball team of kids, holds the fort down when I deploy, and still managed to put herself through a MSN program…  I don’t know how she does it all.”

And a female RN paid tribute to her ICU nurse spouse: “My name is Paige and I’m an RN, but this post is for my husband Ryan. He is an ICU nurse working in a Covid unit. He would never ask for anything from anyone so that is why I am posting for him! It’s love, I know. What better way than to surprise him to say thank you?! He has been a nurse for 10 years… Recently he was working as a float ICU nurse going to 5 hospitals some over an hour away from home to work in the Covid units. He just started working as a traveler nurse taking assignments in Covid ICUs. He is the hardest worker that I know and is so deserving of receiving special gifts! He works 4-6 days a week, night shift, 12 hour shifts, to provide for our family. We have 2 kids under the age of 2! He never complains and comes home with a smile on his face to greet me and our two boys! Thank you taking the time to read this and thank you for doing this!”

The Adopt A Nurse Ohio group was founded by Heather Stewart, an event coordinator. “I have coordinated everything from weddings, birthdays, funerals, graduations, festivals, etc,” she says.

Adopt a Nurse Ohio is not Heather’s first time up at the Adopt-a rodeo; she has quite a track record! “When Covid [first] hit,” she recalls, “It was our high school seniors who were taking the first blow of missing out on traditions and memories, so I created Adopt a Senior… This was a huge success: we are a small village, but [we were] able to adopt every senior.” Later, when schools started back in session Heather said that she “Noticed a lot of teachers were straining for more supplies, disinfected wipes, masks, etc. So, I then created Adopt a Teacher, I went a little bigger and did this on the county level. Clark County School districts and all teachers/aides/faculty in those schools. This too was a huge success. Hundreds of teachers were adopted.”

Adopt A Nurse Ohio co-founder Heather Stewart taking a break with a friend.

But Heather also has a lot of nurses in her family, including her mother, step mother, brother, and sister in law, “along with a slew of aunts and uncles.” Before long, she felt compelled to do something for nurses too. “Now here we are and our nurses are being hit hard on the frontlines. They are fighting a fight none of us could imagine, or would want to.  I went even bigger than local district and county, and went with the state of Ohio. All of our nurses need us. We are all in this together,” Stewart said.

What about the long run? “I do plan on keeping this group going through the pandemic, and after, as long as there is a want for it” says Heather. “All nurses deserve a random act of kindness, regardless of the pandemic.” 

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Koren Thomas
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