Honoring healthcare heroes: How a collaboration of funders brought relief to Natrona County’s frontline nurses

Yard sign thanks Casper healthcare heroes

In this post-pandemic era, most of us have moved on from the disruptions and inconveniences of COVID-19. However, for those who served on the frontlines of the crisis, the impact is long-lasting and often life-changing.

In 2021, staff at the Natrona Collective Health Trust considered what role we could play in relieving the burden carried by the healthcare workers in this community. This inspired a collaboration between NCHT and the Wyoming Community Foundation to award $550,000 in pandemic recovery and healthcare hero support to Natrona County in 2022. In turn, WyCF partnered with Nurses House, Inc. to help distribute a portion of the funding to nurses residing in Natrona County.

Nurses House is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping registered nurses in need. This is accomplished through short-term financial assistance to help combat illness, injury, or in this case, the life disruptions that came from working the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Natrona County nurses were invited to apply for assistance through providing a short explanation of how COVID had affected them personally.

Stories poured in from the community’s nurses illustrating the impact COVID had on their lives and the lives of their families.

“I have four kids, and trying to keep them safe after working around COVID all day was difficult,” one nurse wrote. “I wouldn’t let them run and hug me when I got home until I went downstairs and showered and changed. They are young, so it was hard for them to understand the seriousness of it.”

Others described the lingering pall the pandemic left even after the infection rates dropped. “COVID has taken its toll on me mentally and physically. The black cloud really never lifted; it may have become lighter but it’s still hanging on.”

In the end, Nurses House distributed $150,000 of the NCHT funds to 300 nurses in Natrona County, made possible through the partnership of the NCHT and the Wyoming Community Foundation.

As the checks arrived in the mail, many nurses reached out again with gratitude for the unexpected generosity. Some shared that they would be using the funds to catch up on things like utility bills and rent, while others planned to invest in themselves so they could continue caring for others.

One nurse stated they would be using the funds to help with mental health care costs to learn more relaxation and coping techniques. “The stresses of ‘normal’ life have changed, making many like me reach out for help,” she wrote.

Beyond the financial boost, the nurses expressed gratitude for the recognition of their sacrifices during the pandemic. “More than any monetary benefits, thank you for appreciating all the things that nurses do,” wrote one recipient. “I hope you continue to inspire other people’s lives.”

NCHT would like to sincerely thank the dedicated professionals at the Wyoming Community Foundation and Nurses House Inc., for the part they played in making the Trust’s vision of supporting healthcare heroes a reality.