Published in the Rocky Mount Telegram
From Staff Reports
Nash County Sheriff’s Office personnel stand during a salute by local first responders to health care workers on Friday at Nash UNC Health Care. Below, Nash UNC Health Care staff members stand in front of the Emergency Department as the first responders pay tribute to them.
- Photos by GARRY E. HODGES/SPECIAL TO THE TELEGRAM
Dexter David, right, bows his head as state Rep. James Gailliard speaks Friday during a salute to health care workers at Nash UNC Health Care.
Local first responders gathered Friday at Nash UNC Health Care to salute the staff members of the health care center.
The brainchild of Dexter David from Wheeler and Woodlief Funeral Home & Cremation Services, the event was designed to pay tribute to their work and dedication.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster for these people with what’s going on in this pandemic and the sense of isolation they are going through,” David said.
The effort began earlier in the week, with David reaching out to city officials, emergency service agency heads and hospital leaders to arrange the details.
“There’s so many people — and the value of these people, our health care workers, our first responders — sometimes we lose track of the things they do,” he said.
The salute kicked off just before noon with first responders making an official procession into the Nash UNC campus. Participants practiced social distancing during the event, with first responders standing in the gravel parking lot across the street from the Emergency Department and Nash UNC employees gathering on the lawn in front of the Emergency Department.
“It was emotional … it was wonderful — it was the exact opposite of all the bad news we are seeing,” David said. “I was just honored to be a part of it.”
State Rep. James Gailliard, senior pastor of Word Tabernacle Church, offered brief remarks of thanks and appreciation.
“He was encouraging,” David said. “He gave hope. It was positive and uplifting.”
At the conclusion of the 10-minute event, the first responders applauded the Nash UNC employees for their hard work and dedication to the community during this challenging time. The hospital staff in turn offered their thanks and recognition to the first responders serving with them on the front lines of the pandemic.
“As a community we are stronger, and sometimes we need to take a step back and take a look at the good in everything instead of just looking at the negative,” David said. “We need to remember that fear is ‘false evidence appearing real.’ What took place today was not living in fear. What took place today was to see the good of these people working tireless hours.”
David gave a big share of the credit to Nash UNC Health Care officials for arranging the details to make the event a success.
Hospital officials were quick to express their appreciation.
“While we are extremely humbled and appreciative of this coordinated effort to thank our staff for what we are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are equally as thankful for what first responders are doing as well, and for the ongoing teamwork we rely on with these partners,” said Dorsey Tobias, executive director of marketing, communications and strategy at Nash UNC Health Care. “After all, together we are stronger.”