Gift baskets show support to those on the front line

Gift baskets show support to those on the front line

Sometimes one conversation, a seemingly insignificant interaction can leave a lasting impact on so many people.

That’s the silver lining often found in the COVID-19 cloud, and how Kristen Czerniakowski brainstormed a brilliant way to give back.

She’s a sonographer at Aurora West Allis Medical Center, part of a team that routinely provides scans to COVID patients, including those in the intensive care unit.

One day in fall 2020, her colleague called up to the 6th floor COVID unit to see if they could run a scan on a patient. What came through the other end of the phone struck a chord with Kristen.

The nurse on the other end of the line was fighting back tears, the months of dedication and devotion to COVID patients was taking its toll. She felt exhausted, overwhelmed and completely burned out.

“It takes a compassionate, empathetic, kind-hearted person to go into health care. It isn’t ever easy. So, to hear this nurse so exhausted was difficult,” said Czerniakowski.

That emotional call sparked a moment of inspiration. Later that day, Kristen began to organize gift baskets for the 6th floor COVID unit, ICU and emergency department team members. She passed the hat around the radiology department. Before she knew it, Kristen and her colleague Traci Syvock had helped raise more than $700.

The gift baskets turned into bins full of healthy snacks and splurge treats that were individually wrapped for safety and easy to grab on-the-go. The bins were distributed across the front line, where the heartfelt thanks poured out.

“All the ER caregivers that were there seemed so genuinely appreciative. They seemed in awe,” said Czerniakowski.

That one moment over the phone and the selflessness of those fighting COVID-19 continues to inspire Kristen every day. Through this gesture, Kristen hopes that her colleagues always remember that they are appreciated and that they are not alone.

“It’s OK to be tired and exhausted. That’s when you lean on your team members for support and we are one team and one family,” said Czerniakowski.

Click here for more stories about doctors, nurses and others working on the front lines.

Read more:

‘When we were asked to do this, it wasn’t even a question in my mind’

From forehead kisses to final wishes

‘It’s the little things’

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About the Author

Matt Queen
Matt Queen

Matt Queen, health enews contributor, is a communication coordinator at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He is a former TV sports anchor and journalist with extensive public relations experience across the health care spectrum. Outside of work, Matt enjoys watching sports (of course), cooking, gardening, golfing and spending time with his wife and two young children.