President Biden has expressed his hope that America will have a normal, or as close to normal as possible, Fourth of July this year. All the signs increasingly point to fulfillment of that wish — a wish we all share.

Our recovery is still a work in progress, but no one deserves more credit for how far we have come than our hospitals and incredible heath care workforce. Every single team member … doctors, nurses, administrators, EMTs and people in every kind of support position … has played a key role in saving lives during the pandemic.

While the death toll in the U.S. has been tragic, more than 575,000 lives lost, tens of millions more people have been treated, healed and returned to their families because of the skills, dedication and determination of the caregivers and teams at America’s hospitals and health systems.   

Over the long and grueling slog of the pandemic, nurses and caregivers of all types persevered in the face of enormous challenges to come to work each day and do their very best for patients. For their part, hospitals and health systems bravely coped with critical resource shortages and financial pressures to keep their doors open to the communities that depend on them.

This year, National Nurses Week (May 6-12) and National Hospital Week (May 9-16) have special meaning for every American. Their respective themes, “Nurses are Superheroes” and “Inspiring Hope through Healing,” remind us how important it is to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the contributions of those who have done so much to pull our nation back from the brink and set it on the path to recovery. 

AHA is helping to coordinate this well-deserved national salute. Through a brand new set of tools, including a customizable video, a digital toolkit ads and social media graphics (https://www.aonl.org/about/nurses-week), we urge every hospital and health system to celebrate with their own communities and recognize the hard work and sheer perseverance it took to weather the pandemic … a threat that is still very much with us. 

Next week, in collaboration with Musicians on Call, we’ll unveil an original song and music video inspired by stories and reflections of health care employees at your hospitals and health systems. It’s a moving tribute that you’ll want to check out. 

Even as we celebrate these observances, we must acknowledge the toll that the past 18 months has taken on health care professionals, especially nurses. Many are understandably exhausted, and right now it’s clearer than ever how badly we need these trained, compassionate caregivers. 

That’s why we are continuing to share resources for taking care of our caregivers and advocating for Congress to support workforce health and development. There may be no better tribute to our hospitals and nurses than to attract a new generation of young people to enter the health care profession, carrying on its noble work for generations to come. 

For those we honor this week and next, the nurses and hospitals who continue to answer the call to care and serve during a chapter of our history like no other, all we can say again, collectively, is: “Thank you. You made all the difference.”
 

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