Providence, Community Members Show Appreciation to Caregivers


Providence celebrated nurses and other hospital staff this week with a series of events meant to show appreciation for their work. The celebrations came during the overlap of National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week. Providence Centralia Hospital made sure to let its caregivers know how appreciated they are.

The celebrations in Centralia on Wednesday and in Olympia on Monday are part of a weeklong celebration Providence is throwing for its workers, who the health care provider refers to as “caregivers.” On Thursday, caregivers at Providence Centralia had cake to celebrate the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is considered to be the founder of modern nursing.

The hospital also recognized its caregivers’ hard work by giving them free shaved ice.

The celebration of caregivers was sponsored by I-5 Cars, which has made a point of making sure hospital caregivers know how much the community appreciates their work each year since the pandemic began. Beginning in 2020, I-5 Cars has funded celebrations on National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week, which overlap every year. In 2020, I-5 Cars paid to give caregivers cookies while in 2021 it paid for ice cream.

I-5 Cars also gave caregivers the opportunity to test a pilot program, providing complimentary pickup and delivery for customers. Under the program, I-5 Cars will come and retrieve your car for you while you are busy and take it back to their service location before bringing it back after they are finished. During the celebration event, which started at 2 p.m., I-5 Cars staff was handing out flyers for the new program to hospital staff informing them of the new program they were allowing them to test as a sign of their appreciation.

The caregivers at Providence certainly seemed to like the celebration that Providence and I-5 Cars threw for them. On Monday, Providence held a similar celebration for its caregivers at Olympia’s Providence St. Peter Hospital which saw 600 caregivers show up to enjoy the complimentary shaved ice. At Centralia, which is a smaller hospital, the hospital administration was expecting 200 to 300 to show up, according to Chris Thomas, senior manager of communications for Providence-Swedish Health Alliance’s South Puget Sound Service Area, which includes Providence Centralia and Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia. Thomas said the celebration events the past couple of years have been a great way to show caregivers how much the community appreciates them.

And the community has a lot to be appreciative of. The past two years of COVID-19 have been difficult for Providence. Sharlene Higa, director of nursing at Providence Centralia, said the hospital came close to going into the surge space the federal government had given them an emergency license to use. Luckily, the situation in Centralia never got to that point, even during the omicron variant’s wave of cases.

According to Higa, while St. Peter Hospital had to go over capacity, Centralia never did, though she said they were “a patient or two away from getting into our surge space.”

Providence Centralia, which typically saw the number of patients staying at the hospital in the 70s or 80s pre-COVID-19, had been in the low hundreds at the hospital’s COVID-19 peak. Since then, she says, the number of patients they’re seeing is down about 15% at around 85 to 95 patients at any given time.

According to Thomas, Providence’s big focus this year is on “refresh, renew and recover,” which is why, he said, the health care provider is doing so many events. Thomas also emphasized that they wanted to celebrate all of their caregivers.

“Nurses get lots of recognition,” Thomas said, “but it’s really everyone in the building.”

Thomas said everyone at the hospital contributes to the care of patients.

He specifically mentioned the work of the environmental services employees, who are responsible for cleaning the facility and carrying out other often-uncelebrated duties, which he said have been shown by studies to have the biggest impact on keeping infections out of the hospital.

Thomas said everyone at the hospital is grateful for the level of community support that they have received.

“We’re so blessed by the community with how much support we’ve had … Big shout out to the community,” he said.