Hartford HealthCare Workers Reflect on Pandemic, Honored With Special Concert

Country star Jordan Oaks played for the frontline workers, while service dogs were on hand to offer reprieve.

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It is National Nurses Week and frontline workers at Hartford HealthCare got a heartfelt thank you Wednesday afternoon.

The health care system treated them to a special concert by country singer Jordan Oaks right outside of the hospital in downtown Hartford.

For many of the first responders, this recognition of their strenuous work means a great deal.

Oaks played to a crowd filled with smiles. For an hour, Hartford HealthCare workers were off the clock, taking in the live concert.​​

“It's beautiful to have music, it’s beautiful to celebrate amongst your peers. It's also consoling to the soul,” Ifeoma Mogor, nurse manger of a surgical unit, said.

The event was a show of appreciation from Hartford HealthCare.​

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“It's been a rough two years, not just for us, for our patients and also for our families,” Mogor said.

Two years that have brought frontline workers unprecedented trials.​

“Coming to work every day during the pandemic was challenging, and it was scary,” Wendy Savarese, nurse educator in perioperative services, said.

It forced them to deal with tragedy too often within hospital walls.

​"My 42-bed unit turned out to be a 38-bed COVID unit,” Mogor said. “So I've seen patients die more than they've ever done before. And at the time, you know, I keep saying to myself, 'Will my team ever survive or get through this?'"

They were overwhelmed with emotion, that the nurses say they didn't leave behind when they walked out the door.​

 “I go home, and I cry every day. I not only cry for myself, I cry for my team,” Mogor said. “It is the cry during the shower. It’s a cry you do outside before you get into the house."

The nurses also stepped up to new levels to provide comfort along with care.​

"There were no families, right, there was no one there for them,” Savarese said. “We were kind of their lifeline back then."​

After more than two years of addressing all of the challenges brought on by COVID-19, many of these frontline workers are reflecting on where they are today.​

“Coming back two years later, to be able to take our masks off outside and share together, so we've overcome a lot together. And it's just really a proud moment to be a part of it,” Savarese said.

Oaks is among those showing gratitude. He said he is writing a song dedicated to doctors and nurses.​

​“It’s just an honor to be playing for those people who sacrifice their lives and really just put their lives on the line to make sure we're safe and healthy,” he said.

Few have answered the call like these frontline workers, now getting recognition as healthcare heroes.​

“The nurses that I work with, we all share that fear. We didn't know, it was the unknown,” Savarese said about working through the pandemic. “But the one thing we did know is that we showed up. It was a time in my life that I just felt like, 'This is where I need to be.'"

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