Over the last few weeks, our communities have been struggling through perhaps the worst public health crisis of this generation.
Schools and businesses have been shuttered. People are being asked to stay away from work, their elderly family members and friends. Those we love are getting sick. Families are frightened. Our way of life has drastically changed.
But what we are encouraged by, despite the challenges we face, is the overwhelming sense of hope and goodwill we see from our friends and neighbors in the communities we serve in the Golden Empire, from the mountaintops of Tehachapi to the valleys in Bakersfield and Delano.
At Adventist Health, we are guided by our heartfelt mission: “Living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope.” Today, we are inspired by the hope we’ve seen from our community.
Some say that times of crisis bring out either the worst in people or the best.
In Kern County, it’s abundantly clear: This crisis has brought out the best our community has to offer. We’re inspired by the goodwill, friendship and love we’ve seen from those who call Kern County home, and we’re blessed to call this place home, too.
We’re inspired by the caregivers across Kern County — and not just those at Adventist Health.
The heroes of this pandemic are not only the nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists and others who work in and out of our hospitals and medical offices or the scientists working around the globe to develop new vaccines and medications.
The heroes of this pandemic are also the grocery store clerks who are at the check stands despite concerns for their own health, the agricultural workers who continue to toil in the vastness of our valley’s fields to pick the food our world depends upon, the restaurant employees and delivery drivers who continue to go to work and the housekeepers in every hospital who clean to keep infection from spreading.
The heroes are the folks who give strangers a smile and a wave when you see them from a distance on the street because they know we could all use that kind of friendliness these days.
They’re the moms and dads who have overnight become homeschool teachers juggling jobs and teaching duties.
They’re the school cafeteria workers who ensure our community’s children receive a hot meal each day, even when they’re not in class.
They’re the firefighters, paramedics, police and other first responders who continue to put on their uniforms each day, hit the streets and protect, us even though they’re scared, too.
You are all appreciated and loved, and yes, you are all caregivers, too.
You are a testament that together, we can overcome anything — even when it feels like we are more distant than ever before. And you all represent something that no pandemic or virus can ever strip away from us: hope.
Even in the darkest of times, there’s always something for which we can be grateful. For us, it’s all of you.
During these times, we want to urge our communities to continue to lead with love, to be kind to one another, to offer each other grace and to continue inspiring hope in others the way you’ve inspired it in us.
Sharlet Briggs is the president of Adventist Health Bakersfield, David Butler is the president of Adventist Health Delano and Jeff Lingerfelt is the president of Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley. Together, the three hospitals, affiliated clinics and outpatient centers serve hundreds of thousands of people across Kern County.