Every day since the COVID-19 pandemic made its appearance in the Wood River Valley, Erin Pfaeffle, director of community engagement for St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center, has sent out daily emails of support and encouragement to hospital staff.
In an email to the Mountain Express, Pfaeffle said she wanted to do what she could to add a little light to everyone’s day during these “stressful, unpredictable times” that would be “uplifting, helpful, and hopeful.”
“As a social worker I recognize the importance of connection, education and access to resources, so it seemed like an easy way for us to provide that type of support to our staff,” Pfaeffle said.
Pfaeffle’s emails to staff include inspirational quotes, food suggestions for a healthy immune system and ways to nurture mental health through exercise and staying virtually connected with friends and family. Monday’s quote was one from Fred Rogers, the American television personality from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable,” Rogers said. “When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.”
So far, Pfaeffle said, the reaction has been positive, with kind email responses from staff thanking her for sending something to give them a smile, every day.
“I have had quite a few people ask if they can forward to others, which, of course I am happy to have them do,” she said.
Pfaeffle works with community partners throughout the valley to help find uplifting content, such as websites that families can use together to virtually visit museums around the world or to watch live images of animals in zoos across the U.S.
In light of the positive response, she now shares the emails with other organizations, including the Blaine County School District, The Hunger Coalition, Blaine County Chaplaincy and 5B Suicide Prevention Alliance.
Until things settle back to normal, Pfaeffle said, she’ll continue sending the daily emails, something that’s uplifting for her personally through this uncertain time.