Liz Borgueta, RN, the program manager for nursing excellence at Stanford Health Care, wanted all the professionals on the front lines in the fight against coronavirus to know that their families were behind them.
She also wanted the world to see some of the faces of the family members making it possible for the doctors, nurses, housekeepers, social workers, respiratory therapists and other health care workers to take care of people during the outbreak.
"We get all the credit but there's this group of our loved ones who are sharing us with the world by letting us serve our purpose," Borgueta said. "They're also making a sacrifice."
As a surprise to the staff, she secretly worked with spouses, parents, siblings and adult children over four days last week to collect video messages and put together an emotional tribute.
Borgueta was profoundly moved by the almost immediate responses from family members when she reached out for messages.
"I felt like they dropped everything to express and share their message of love, inspiration and support," she said. "My ask was for a message specific to their loved one, but they sent me messages thanking the entire health care workforce. At the end of the conversation they were thanking me, which was so humbling."
The messages are heartfelt.
"Not only are you my hero, but you're everybody's hero," a wife says.
"I'm so grateful that you are working at the hospital trying to stop the coronavirus," a young child says.
"I'm so incredibly proud of everything you're doing right now to help support the community," a brother says.
Borgueta can relate to those family members. Not only did she spend 17 years doing direct bedside care as an intensive care unit nurse, she's also married to a frontline health care worker. Her husband works as a medical-surgical nurse at a county hospital that received one of the region's first COVID-19 cases.
It isn't easy watching him go to work each day, she said, knowing he could contract the virus. That's what gave her the idea to make the video.
"He told me, 'If I'm going to worry about myself getting sick, then who's going to take care of the patients?' I was very proud of him because this is our oath; we don't worry about ourselves," she said. "I felt like it meant so much to my husband when I pulled myself together and he can leave the house knowing that I'm behind him all the way."
Borgueta has been moved by the positive responses to the video. Colleagues throughout the hospital, regardless of whether they were featured, told her it felt like a giant hug when they needed it most.
"I kept wondering what else I could do to support my peers. I prepared my scrub suit; I was ready to join the frontline when needed," she said. "After receiving messages on how my little gesture of creating this video uplifted their spirit during these trying times... I cried because I felt like I had humbly served a greater purpose."
Image by Nicola Fioravanti; Family photo courtesy Elizabeth Borgueta