'We've been going non-stop:' ABC11Together thanks healthcare heroes working hard at Duke Raleigh

ABC11 Together highlights the strength of the human spirit, good deeds, community needs, and how our viewers can help
RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The community is coming together once again to say 'thank you' to our tireless healthcare heroes -- most of them working around the clock during the pandemic in an effort to save lives.

ABC11 Together, along with Ruckus Pizza and Pasta, made sure the healthcare workers at Duke Raleigh Hospital know how much they are appreciated.

Ruckus owners, Robert and Ashley Royster, delivered a delicious lunchtime spread Thursday afternoon.

"Sushi, wraps, salads, anything to support our frontline guys right here," said Ashley Royster, pointing to the carts full of food ready to be rolled inside the hospital. "It's been tough on all the businesses but you know what, they're the ones day in a day out making it safe for everybody else out there."

ABC11 Chief Meteorologist Don Schwenneker doled out boxes of snacks the healthcare staff can grab on the go.

Anthony Martin, Emergency Department RN, started at Duke Raleigh at the onset of the pandemic.

"It is long days on our feet," said Martin, who talked about the wait times inside Duke Raleigh's ED due to an influx in patients coming in. "Knowing that the community has that support for us and they're wishing us well during these hard time, it does great things for us in the emergency department."

A basketful of thank you cards from West Lake Elementary School students accompanied the food headed up to the hardworking staff.

COVID patients coming up from the E.D. make their way to Cassandra Alford, a Progressive Care Unit nurse.

"On the COVID unit, we've been going non-stop," Alford said. "It hasn't dwindled for us. Yes, the numbers fluctuate up and down, day to day, week to week, but we're still working just as hard to keep these people alive and get them through this disease."

While some of the public support prevalent in the pandemic's early days seems to have waned for these healthcare workers who've been holding their post, Alford said gestures like the one she and her colleagues received on this particular day, make a difference.

"That just shows us that they're still thinking of us that while we've been going non-stop there is people in the community still kinda reaching out and hugging us from afar," she said.

Priscilla Ramseur, Chief Nursing and Patient Care Services Officer, said there are about 80 nursing vacancies at Duke Raleigh where there are currently 16 COVID patients, three of which are in the ICU.

"Our teams have been working extra hours, we've actually used travelers, we have a lot of PRN staff which we call flex staff who have stepped up and worked extra," she said.

Ramseur said the drop-off from the community is a morale booster for her team.

"Just knowing someone's thinking about the work you do means a lot," she said.
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