A concrete barrier outside of St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way reads “We got this.”
The hospital employees who wrote the message truly believe it, said Emergency Department Clinical Manager Chantel Arnone, especially with the support of the local community through donations of snacks, protective gear and handwritten notes.
As of April 2, there have been 76 positive COVID-19 test results and one death due to the virus in Federal Way, according to a King County Public Health data dashboard.
Arnone has worked at St. Francis for 12 years and oversees about 120 employees in the emergency department — a stressful place to be during this time, she said.
“Our staff are facing something relatively unknown, that alone is stressful for people,” Arnone said. Saving lives is the top priority of medical personnel, but now with an added layer of worry with increased risk of catching the virus and having to wear uncomfortable protective gear for long shifts day after day.
“All of that combined is really creating a stressful environment for all hospital staff,” Arnone said.
Nothing compares to this type of pandemic, or the outpouring of generosity from Federal Way locals.
In the last few weeks, staff at St. Francis have received donations almost daily of coffee, pizza deliveries, snacks, gloves, pens, masks, hand-sewn surgical caps, hand sanitizer and other much-appreciated treats.
Shelley Pauls, founder and coordinator of We Love Our City nonprofit, was one of the first groups to deliver a plethora of gifts to St. Francis.
“We decided as a group we really wanted to cheer on our healthcare workers and appreciate all they’re doing,” Pauls said of We Love Our City, a network of local churches.
Balancing work and home lives is a challenging juggle for healthcare workers right now, Pauls said.
We Love Our City has made four donation trips, starting with a St. Patrick’s Day party and themed treats around March 17. Other donations trips by WLOC have supplied hospital workers with drinks, snacks, gift cards, healthy food items and thank you cards. Donna Cox from Light of Christ Community Garden and volunteers from the Federal Way Senior Center have sewn many of the masks delivered to staff.
For staff, standing out among the gifts are the handwritten notes and cards with words of gratitude, Arnone said. Some students from a local elementary school even wrote notes of encouragement.
“Staff have really appreciated the handwritten notes,” she said. “It really brought the spirits up of staff to read those notes and feel like our community is supporting them in this time.”
Despite the pandemic stress and worries, Arnone said the emergency department is a strong team that has come together in a tough situation.
Speaking on behalf of the hospital staff, Arnone said they are so thankful for every single donation, and appreciate knowing their community is standing behind them.
“I don’t have enough words to say how much we appreciate it,” she added.
Healthcare professionals do still urge residents to stay home so hospital staff can continue to serve patients in need during this time, although donations are welcome.
St. Francis continues to accept donations from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the hospital’s loading dock, located on the west side of the building past the Emergency Services Department, 34515 9th Ave. S., Federal Way. Most items need to be single serving, prepackaged and nonperishable.
Sought after items include cash gifts, new N-95 masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, standard medical masks, handwritten notes, and other resources to help medical workers through the uncertainty of the pandemic.
And, Arnone added, most nurses enjoy coffee.
For more information on donations to St. Francis Hospital, visit chifranciscan.org.