Mainers are a proud bunch and we can only imagine what it would take for a Mainer to finally give in and ask for help. Emily O'Connell is a Maine Nurse Practitioner in southern Maine who took to Facebook to buck the Mainer tradition of 'grinning and bearing it' and, instead, did the opposite: asked for a helping hand.

Pandemic Wear-and-Tear In Photos

O'Connell shared photos on social media Thursday of her suited up in her PPE including goggles and an N95 mask, new PPE to wear on a regular basis as a healthcare worker in the hospital environment during the pandemic.

Her after photo shows the indentations of the goggles and mask on her face and looking exhausted after a long shift at the hospital. Additionally, her cracked, dry hands show the constant hand washing that must be done to maintain a safe environment for vulnerable patients and to keep herself and her coworkers safe, as well.

Credit: Emily O'Connell
Credit: Emily O'Connell
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A Plea From the Pandemic's Frontline In Maine, America

O'Connell's post shares a plea from the frontline of the pandemic, those that are at the ready for whoever walks through emergency room doors, inpatient rooms, walk-in care clinics, and doctors' offices and doing so for the past two years. O'Connell and others are our first line of defense when our immunity succumbs and we are left vulnerable to an uncertain future, as improbable as we may have once thought until you are needing the care of one of these trusted, caring, and well-trained individuals at the local hospital.

O'Connell's plea is one that shares burnt-out staff affected by the constant threat of the COVID virus and its variations. Her plea is beyond just asking for help but getting specific on what you could do to help, or rather, calling for support for the healthcare frontline from big corporations and big celebrities- to shed light and start bringing some unity, show compassion, and care during this pandemic wartime.

O'Connell pleads for self-care items for those that are the shield wall to the disaster of the pandemic. They did not train to take on two years of a pandemic and have charged through as caring, compassionate, and duty-filled healthcare would.  But, after two years we can only imagine the self-care that has been neglected to give their all for their work and their community.

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A Common Cause We Should All Be Unifying For Right Now

O'Connell is reaching out to organizations and businesses to donate to healthcare workers who are holding steady on the frontlines. She is calling for help in assisting healthcare workers across the United States in their own self-care, asking for support universally, from big business to small business, from organizations and to celebrities.

Here's what she wrote on Facebook on Thursday with a plea worth fighting for:

"I write this message for my colleagues and my healthcare teammates here in Maine but across the USA. We need some pick me ups besides pizza from administrators. I am asking for local companies to help. Anything you can think of to provide good self care to us. Therapy dogs are welcomed, Cerave hand lotions and face creams, organizations like Nike, Adidas, and beyond to help my colleagues have comfortable footwear for their long shifts. Anything for wellness activities like skiing, rock climbing, golf, swimming, you name it. Mental health. Massages. Healthy food to eat. A credit at the garden store. A national park pass. A new pair of socks for our tired feet. We are the red, white, and blue. When we pitch in with kindness towards one another, and individual commitment to the greater good, anything is possible. If Jeff Bezos can send people to space, our country can do small acts of kindness that lead to changing the world. And if I’m really dreaming big, Oprah, Beyoncé, JLo, Warren Buffett, Ellen, Tom Brady, Gronk, Tom Hanks, Adele, Meryl Streep, Serena, Tiger, Phil, Leonardo, Hoda, Rapino and Sue, Dwyane Wade, Michelle, Dolly…can we work together to make this world a better place? The today show?

Deep gratitude,

ETO"

From The Hearts of Maine Healthcare Workers

Lending this article to her voice, here is Emily in her own words asking for kindness, compassion, and care for those facing the most extremes of the pandemic on a daily basis:

"My message is one of unity, community support, kindness, and hope. My healthcare teammates here in Maine and around the world are taking a beating, and are at some of their lowest points. The ultimate thing is healthcare colleagues have shown up day after day dealing with incredible stress, depression, anxiety, grief, and exposures all while trying to deliver the care we know how to. Small acts of service are what my healthcare teammates have been doing through all the hours for 2 years and we just need some help from our community. I thought that for sure, if Jeff Bezos can send people into space, then we the people, can pitch in with tiny forms of kindness to healthcare peeps. (And teachers god love them, grocery store workers, postal service workers). If we each did something small like that, or hand creams or face creams (CeraVe is what’s recommended by dermatologists), or if we really dreamed big and got larger companies like L.L. Bean, Nike, Adidas, to offer just small discounts on footwear and the right layers (so important to wear the correct layers when all suited up in PPE), and asked local companies to consider small, and I mean small, discounts on things focused on health and wellness such as yoga, acupuncture, massage, exercise things, than I genuinely think healthcare peeps in Maine would feel heard and appreciated when many are not.

And the saying of “where Maine goes, the country goes,” has the power to spread these acts to other states which in my opinion is so desperately needed."

Pandemic Warfare Could Bring Unity, Kindness, And Compassion

"So many times during COVID I have thought of both of my grandfathers who served in WWII," says O'Connell. "One was a POW for two years in Germany, his plane shot down. He was a tail gunner in the “Cash and Carrie” (oh yes, with a naked lady on the nose of the plane). And the other a ground soldier.

The country at that time in our history pitched together," O'Connell continues.  "Men, women, children, manufacturing, business. I am not a soldier by any means, nor hero, I am a worker bee who shows up fighting the world's enemy known as COVID. Except in my lifetime, our country is so divided and hateful, often filled with mistrust, and preference on “me” instead of “us”."

Emily brings an interesting paradox that wartime is here but, compared to the wartime of World War II, the unity for help, selflessness, and grace are seemingly characteristics of an America of the past. Her goal is to share the problem and offer solutions to inspire unity in an America scarred with distrust and lost in the chaos.

Please share this story so we can see more care lent to those that care for us when we are at our most vulnerable, during a time when this pandemic seems to have no end. Thank you to all of those frontline healthcare workers. We thank you for your hard work, compassion, and integrity and we hope to see that you get some self-care to lift some of your burdens, hopefully with America taking the reigns of your care.

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