At the outset of the pandemic, health care workers were showered with gift baskets, parades, encouraging roadside signs and impressive F-16 fly-bys at hospitals.

However, those expressions of thanks have waned and the COVID-19 hospital admissions and virus-related deaths continue.

As Jake Henry Jr., president and CEO of Saint Francis Health System, noted, these frontline heroes “are exhausted after wearing personal protective equipment for a bustling 12-hour shift over and over again.

“When they get in their car and drive home, they are truly spent,” Henry said. “When they enter unmasked apathy in public places — stores, restaurants and public gatherings — they feel defeated.”

Read more about why we honored local health care workers as Tulsans of the Year.

Pictured above: Frontline workers James Burns, RN, BSN, Saint Francis Health System (left); Tulsa Fire Department Chief Michael Baker; Tulsa Health Department Division Chief of Prevention, Preparedness and Response Kelly VanBuskirk; Respiratory Therapist Brittany Ullrich from Ascension St. John Medical Center; Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart; Kayla Stack, EMSA medic and recipient of the 2020 Star of Life award; Dr. Guy Sneed, chief medical officer of Hillcrest HealthCare System; Nick Coffman, EMSA paramedic; Kelsey Two Bears, certified physician assistant at Sapulpa Indian Health Center of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health, stand outside Tulsa Central Library.

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