DOVER – One local woman has taken on a daily task to thank health-care workers and first responders for being on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, and she hopes others will join her.
Dover resident Inge Houck can be found these days standing outside the entrance/exit to Portsmouth Regional Hospital’s Dover Emergency Room, located at 10 Central Ave.
“I live nearby, and I called them on Monday, to ask what they needed,” said Houck. “I felt I needed to do something. They said they had sufficient N95 masks when I asked. I was trying to think of what else I could do, when I got a return call.”
Houck does not know the name of the person who called back, but his response set her on a mission.
“He told me what he felt was really needed was for people to stand outside the ER and clap for the hospital workers at the end of their shift,” said Houck. “I could do that.”
Houck made a sign that simply says “Thank You.” She recruited a couple of families in her neighborhood who came to help with proper social distancing, of course, for the first time when she did it on Saturday.
Lynn Robbins, spokesperson for Portsmouth Regional Hospital, said the staff members appreciate the gesture.
“I would say thank you for the encouragement,” said Robbins. “These folks are on the front lines during a scary time in health care.”
“I have been doing it every day, morning and evening shift, even if it is just me, and I plan to continue doing it,” said Houck. “I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m., and I am back at 6:30 p.m. Some of the health care workers came out to thank me. They all wore masks but assured me they were smiling even if I couldn’t see it.”
What Houck really wants is to start a trend. She said she hopes people see her story and join her.
“I don’t mean they need to come here, although they are welcome,” said Houck. “They can go to hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices near them. Just let them know we understand they are putting their own safety on the line for us, Let them know we care.”
On Saturday, after she left the Dover ER, Houck went to Hannaford’s supermarket down the street.
“I went to pick up some things, but I realized these workers are also on the front lines,” said Houck. “They are scared but they are still working. So. I thanked them, too.”
Houck said she feels that, as frightening as the current situation is, it is making people kinder and more aware of others.
“I think we know now how important it is to be able to see each other,” said Houck. “We are so isolated, and we took social interaction for granted. Even going for a walk, I notice that people are making eye contact. They are saying hello, while keeping their distance. That might be the good that comes from this.”