Regional One honors healthcare workers as anniversary of Shelby County’s first confirmed COVID-19 case approaches


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This weekend marks one year since the first COVID-19 case in Shelby County. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals have been the heroes of this pandemic, and tonight Regional One Health will honor them in what’s been a very challenging time.

“We had the virus introduced into the community. It was brand new. It was scary. We didn’t know quite was going on. We made every effort to contain it,” said David Sweat, Shelby County Health Department deputy director.

Now, nearly one year after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Shelby County, the health department has reported nearly 90,000 positive cases and 1,500 deaths. With vaccinations rapidly moving forward, healthcare professionals reflect on the ups and downs of the pandemic.

“It feels scary and frightening at times to be in the middle of a pandemic and kind of be the person people are looking to. The person being all of healthcare. Nursing especially had a huge role,” said Dr. Amber Thacker, director of hospital medicine for Regional One.

Persevering through the gut-wrenching moments like helping a dying COVID patient say goodbye to family, they’ve found light through each other and light through the love and support from this resilient community.

“Watching someone else in that process and seeing how important it was to that family member really stuck with me. I think about it a lot,” Thacker said.

Regional One will honor them with a Mighty Lights show on the bridges that cross the Mississippi River. The lights will glow in the same colors as the scrubs and uniforms worn by those healthcare heroes.

“It’s one of the greatest things that can be done just to say ‘Hey, we appreciate you and that you did this for us and took care of my patients, took care of our family members,’ and so I think it means a lot,” Thacker said.

Regional One has dedicated the entire month of March as gratitude month for its employees. Tonight’s light show is just the first of many events.

The show will start when the sun goes down.

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