These Heroes Won’t Stop
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Posted on: December 14, 2020
These Heroes Won’t Stop
It’s not hyperbole to describe frontline health care workers battling COVID-19 day after day in hospitals, medical clinics, and nursing homes as modern day heroes. Like so many who don’t work in health care, David Byers can’t imagine how devastating this pandemic has been to the nursing profession:
What other job is there right now where one goes to work and sees death every day? I cannot imagine watching people dying one after another. Keeping patients as comfortable as possible, knowing there really isn’t a cure. Knowing that loved ones are not allowed to be with the sick. They are the caregivers. They are the ones holding the hands of the dying, then going on to the next room to do it all over again. It’s like a “Twilight Zone” saga. The stress is with them for eight, 12, 14 hours each working shift. Then they go home to rest somehow and do it all over again.
Physically it has to be exhausting. But mentally, the damage may last a lifetime. One cannot extinguish the mental images and emotions that these fine professionals have seen and been put through.
Earlier this month, Allegheny Health Network found a unique and very special way to honor our heroes in scrubs:
Since the onset of COVID-19, more has been asked of nurses than ever before. And while many of us stayed home, they stepped up with courage, compassion, and care in our greatest hour of need. So, with 2020 declared the Year of the Nurse, AHN wanted to find a way to honor our own nurses and recognize them for what they truly are — heroes.
With the help of Marvel Comics, we brought real heroic stories from real AHN nurses to life in the form of a superhero comic book. Stories were collected from colleagues, patients and family members — anyone who experienced the undeniable resolve of our nurses firsthand. Marvel then took those stories and gave them the hero treatment. And just like that, “The Vitals” were born.
The characters in Marvel’s virtual comic book aren’t fictional, discovered Paul Guggenheimer:
When Allegheny Health Network nurse Andrew Cleary was growing up, he loved Spider-Man and identified with the character in the way that many children do.
But he never imagined one day being on the same Marvel comic book pages as his favorite superhero.
On Thursday Marvel Comics unveiled “The Vitals: True Nurse Stories,” presenting the stories of AHN frontline nurses like Cleary. Cleary, who has dark hair and a full beard, is one of the eight nurses whose images are featured in the illustrations.
“It just blows my mind, really. I still can’t believe it,” said Cleary, a 39-year-old North Hills native who works as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit at AHN Forbes Hospital in Monroeville. “When I did see it, I was kind of blown away, especially because it’s Marvel. It’s an honor.”
Marvel’s gesture of honoring frontline nurses is blowing minds everywhere:
“At Marvel, we tell stories about heroes every day. But this story is special. It tells a story about our everyday heroes — the nurses and health care professionals working tirelessly and courageously to save lives,” said Dan Buckley, president of Marvel Entertainment. “Along with AHN , we are honored to help tell these stories, which we dedicate to the real heroes who are saving the world.”
One of the first to see “The Vitals” comic book was Tracey Hynes, a frontline covid nurse at AHN Jefferson in Jefferson Hills. She said she was overwhelmed.
“I can’t believe that Marvel would want to do this to honor nurses,” said Hynes. “If you ask any nurse, they would never say that they are a superhero. We’re just doing our jobs. So, to have them come out and portray us as superheroes is overwhelming, very humbling and I was shocked. I’m very appreciative and I think that the whole nursing community will be.”
Hynes, a mother of two boys, said she became emotional as she read part of the comic book to her 11-year-old son.
It’s a pretty terrific comic book! You can find it, read it, and share it online with the ones you love here.
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