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Driver woman lends support for ‘hospital heroes’

From her home in Driver during the coronavirus pandemic, Ashley McDougal wanted to find a way to provide support for the area’s medical professionals.

“I noticed that a lot of my clients that are in the medical field were really starting to see how much this (COVID-19) virus has really weighed on their heart,” McDougal said. “And the daily decision of going to work and putting themselves and their family at risk to do their job, I just started to see it start to become a trend.”

Her initial plan was for she and her family to adopt a single nurse and shower that person with encouragement and gratitude, but when she reached out to her friend base on Facebook, McDougal, a real estate agent, learned of a greater need. Many others were looking to be “adopted” as well.

At that point, McDougal started a Facebook group, Adopt a Hospital Hero, to provide support and pick-me-ups for medical professionals in Suffolk and throughout the Hampton Roads region. The group, which started April 10, has grown to 217 people through Tuesday.

The group is doing two different things — one is a weekly dropoff of treats that can be put into the lounges for the nurses and doctors — something to put a smile on their face.

Last week, the group dropped off Lifesavers that said, “You’re a lifesaver. Thank you for everything they’re doing.” This week, the theme is bananas, McDougal said, and it will have the message, “This shift is bananas.”

The other part has group members adopting individual nurses and have connected with them, mailing them gift cards, along with cards that offer words of encouragement.

“The gratitude for what they have to do on a daily basis, and the protocol that has been put on them to do their job just reminds me of how special they are, and how much they truly do for our community,” McDougal said, “and I think sometimes we lose sight of people like health care workers and stuff, because they always are there. And then you really see them in that type of light, and you realize how much we do rely on them.”

The group is serving staff at Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk, as well as other nurses from all over Hampton Roads.

McDougal said she plans to continue the group for the foreseeable future.

“We don’t have an ending in sight,” McDougal said. “With that being said, neither do they, for what they have to do, so we’re in for the long haul.”

Want to help?

Anyone interested in helping support the area’s medical professionals can go to the public group on Facebook established by Ashley McDougal, Adopt a Hospital Hero, at bit.ly/adoptahospitalhero. The page has information on joining the group, as well as a link to a GoFundMe page established to provide support for the hospital heroes.