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How San Diegans are showing their appreciation to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 crisis

People across the county are stepping up to help and show their heartfelt appreciation in numerous, touching ways.


The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the lives of every San Diegan, but none so greatly as the brave healthcare workers battling this scourge from the front lines. Thousands of doctors, nurses, and hospital, clinic, and laboratory personnel are putting their health and lives on the line to protect others. At UCSD Health, that includes non-medical staff who have been shifted from their normal everyday jobs into a crisis-born labor pool to staff positions which support front-line staffers.

COVID-19 has required an unprecedented level of sacrifice from these skilled, hard-working professionals. Their day-in, day-out devotion to the patients they care for leaves little time or energy for anything else, especially home life and family. Fortunately, people across the county are stepping up to help and show their heartfelt appreciation in numerous, touching ways.

Key among these efforts has been donations of food to sustain medical workers. As of the last week, more than 5,000 meals had been donated to UCSD Health staff. Some came directly from local restaurants, while other were purchased with funds raised through campaigns initiated by various community groups.

UC San Diego Health staff

“Having meals and household essentials available to them without having to make another stop on the way home helps to ease some of that anxiety and allows the team to have a few more minutes to rest and recover before going back to work,” says Courtney Johnson, Director of Patient Engagement and Experience Strategy for UCSD Health’s Office of Experience Transformation. “I’ve had team members tell me multiple times over the last few weeks that walking into their break room to find a meal or snack puts a smile on their face when they really need to smile.”

San Diegans have also gifted medical staff with thousands of protein bars, energy drinks, snacks, canned goods, and toiletries. These goods form the basis for a pantry which UCSD Health team members short on time and energy can access in-between long, taxing shifts.

Other symbols of thanks contributed by grateful San Diegans include cards, drawings, posters, and letters from local schools, community groups, and individuals. Those items have been posted in highly visible spots throughout UCSD Health’s various facilities to help recharge staff and lift their spirits. Additionally, colorful rocks bearing inspirational messages now line common pathways that team members travel to and from hospital facilities. Those hand-painted gifts came courtesy of the Fitzpatricks, a local family wanting to say “thank you” during this challenging period, and that sentiment was received loud and clear.

The Fitzpatrick family
The Fitzpatrick family

“This is a time of high anxiety for everyone in our community and especially for our team members,” says Johnson. “Messages of appreciation, joy, and gratitude inspire our team members in ways that nothing else can.”

COVID-19 has tested our entire population. Yet, through it all, San Diegans remain grateful and gracious to friends and neighbors giving their all to care for those afflicted with coronavirus.

“It takes a lot of committed team members to keep a hospital functioning. With these donations, we are sharing our community’s appreciation to all of our healthcare workers, from doctors and nurses to our housekeepers, engineers, lab technicians, radiologists, and so many more,” says Johnson. “The tremendous outpouring of gratitude and support truly amazes me. Our team is incredibly grateful for the generosity of our community.”

How You Can Help

If you would like to lend a hand to friends and neighbors fighting COVID-19 from the front lines, UCSD Health welcomes donations of the following items:

  • Meals: Ideally, meals should be individually packaged. However, pizza, boxes of baked goods, and large servings of coffee are also acceptable. For large meal donations, the best drop-off times are between 6 and 8am for breakfast, 11:30am for lunch, 5pm for dinner and 8pm for workers on the night shift. UCSD Health will arrange all logistics based on each individual donation.
  • Non-perishable Food: Canned goods, pasta, dried goods, oatmeal packs, single-serve bags of chips, popcorn, crackers, and other snacks.
  • Household Items: Cleaning products, paper towels, toilet paper, soaps, hand creams, lotions, and other health-and-wellness items.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: Medical-grade procedure and surgical masks (no hand-sewn masks), N95 respirators (3M-branded models 1870+ or 8210), surgical and isolation/protective gowns, arm sleeves, goggles, safety glasses and face shields.

People looking to contribute may do so by visiting UCSD Health’s donation website or reaching out via email. Items can also be sent or delivered, Monday through Friday, to UCSD San Diego Health, Office of Experience Transformation, 200 West Arbor Drive, #8916, San Diego, 92103.

UCSD Health is also accepting encouraging video messages from the public, which they will share with team members internally. If you would like to express your thanks through this medium, video files can be sent via email


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