CLEVELAND — A critical care nurse in one of the Cleveland Clinic's COVID intensive care units started a new tradition and her friends are trying to make sure it sticks, but needs some help to do so.
On Christmases in the past, Tara Roy said her coworkers did a potluck and gave the food vouchers provided by the Clinic to visitors so they could have something warm to eat while visiting sick loved ones.
But last year potlucks weren't possible and visitors weren't allowed, so Roy decided to do something to help her co-workers who were in the hospital instead of home.
"We get the sickest of the sick in our unit," Roy said. "It's sadder than usual ... We feel like we're alone a lot. I know it's a little bit melancholy, but we feel a little bit forgotten."
For nearly two years, Roy and her co-workers have been treating COVID-19 patients every day, no questions asked.
"I thought it would be really, really cool if in the New York and "Christmas Story" tradition if I could have Chinese dinner for my coworkers," Roy said.
So, she priced it out. It would cost around $700 to feed everyone in her unit. Last year, she said it took less than a day to raise that and a little more.
"I think that it is absolutely incredible that someone can have all that stress, all of that weight, all of that agony on their heart and still take a step back and go 'I'm going to be a blessing to the people on my unit. I'm going to be a blessing to the people on my staff,'" said Bridgett Jefferies, a friend of Roy's.
Jefferies contacted News 5 to share what Roy is trying to do. Facing a system at its breaking point and record numbers of COVID cases daily, Jefferies said it's important to keep supporting front line workers.
"The individuals working in that ICU unit are people too," she said. "And they're battling the same fears and the same anxiety and the same pressure that we're all facing from a mental health standpoint, from a financial standpoint, from an emotional standpoint but they're there every day."
This year, Roy wants to do the same thing; provide a hot meal for doctors, nurses, and staff ready for them when they get a chance to eat.
Food this year will come from a Cleveland staple and a favorite of Roy's, Li Wah.
"That's the best part for me is seeing all these people pitch in so I can do this little gesture," Roy said about a moment of kindness during another COVID surge.
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