Candelight vigils have returned to Southwest Memorial Hospital to show support for health care workers on the front line of the pandemic.
Vigils will be on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. outside the main hospital entrance through the holiday season, said organizer Jean Schwein, a pastor for First United Methodist Church.
“We’ve heard about hospitals and health care workers being pushed to their limits once again, and working with fewer staff members than last year,” she said in an email. “Together we will pray, meditate and offer spiritual support to those who are caring for others.”
Dress warmly, bring candles and signs with supportive slogans. Candles also will be be available. Organizers ask that people wear a mask and practice social distancing from people you don’t live with.
Last year, people called out names of nurses, doctors and staff. They sang songs and sent prayers. Vigil participants walked around the building to the emergency entrance as hospital staff waved from windows and went out to say thank you.
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, communities nationwide repeatedly displayed support for health care workers. Restaurants delivered free meals, and neighborhoods banged pots and pans at set times.
“That show of support dropped off, and now they are dealing with a lot more COVID cases,” Schwein said last year at a vigil. “We are here to wrap this building and all the people in it with prayers, and surround it with strength and love.”
For those who want to donate a meal to hospital workers, only restaurant food in takeout containers will be accepted, organizers said.
While the recent COVID-19 surge has subsided slightly in Montezuma County, hospitals statewide have been at or nearing capacity across the state, said Marc Meyer, director of pharmacy and infection control for Southwest Health System.
‘We have been extremely busy, and have been running full,” he said Nov. 11 during a Southwest Health System Facebook update on the pandemic.
Colorado officials anticipate the state could need an additional 500 new beds by December, he said.
Most COVID patients that require hospitalization are unvaccinated, Meyer said.