In an interview last week with the Herald, Grand Forks Public Health Director Debbie Swanson answered a series of questions related to the health of the city’s residents. At the end of the interview, she was asked about her staff. We wondered how the people tasked with battling the coronavirus are doing as they deal with the pressures related to the pandemic.
“I think everyone’s holding up OK, but I will say that it’s really been a long journey for the public health folks. For the team I work with, we have been at this since March. We have added some extra staff, but as we have added extra staff, we have also added a lot of extra cases, a lot of additional concerns and a lot of new nuances to the work that we’re doing,” Swanson said. “It’s difficult for everyone, whether they work in public health or they work anywhere, but we tend to do our work a little bit more behind the scenes so it may not always be noticed.”
Monday was Public Health Thank You Day, set aside to take time to recognize the efforts being made by those workers fighting behind the scenes during the pandemic.
There are so many days set aside during the year to honor one group or another that they often slide together. Many go unnoticed, and frankly we wouldn’t have known about this day had it not been for a note sent by Sally Pyle, chairwoman of the Grand Forks Board of Health.
Her letter, which was published on the Herald’s website, noted that many Grand Forks Public Health Department employees have been working without a break since the pandemic began in March.
“This year, these heroes are working continuously to keep our city and county safe from infectious disease,” Pyle wrote. “They do this by administering vaccines, promoting mental health and physical health, ensuring the health and safety of food service establishments and protecting the environment among many other efforts.”
We know the Grand Forks Public Health Department is extraordinarily busy during the pandemic. And while we can’t name more than a small handful of those workers, we do appreciate all of the efforts being made there.
Swanson, when asked by the Herald last week, said it’s a difficult time for the staff at Grand Forks Public Health, because “when things aren’t going well, then oftentimes we are the first to take the criticism. That can be challenging.”
Importantly, she wasn’t complaining but simply answering our question.
“But I am incredibly proud of the Grand Forks Health team and all of our partners that we work with,” she said.
Belatedly, the Herald acknowledges Public Health Thank You Day and the work being done not only at Grand Forks Public Health, but also by all of those who are working to help the community through this health crisis. Whether it’s nurses and doctors on the front line, senior care employees, National Guard workers at testing events, employees at Grand Forks Public Health or the many other people in various health care roles that are battling the pandemic, we salute them.
And during Thanksgiving week, we all should be thankful for what they do.