Collierville gratitude touches health care workers’ hearts

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 30, 2020 3:24 PM CT | Published: March 30, 2020 1:13 PM CT

Sharon Gant walked out of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Collierville Sunday evening, March 29, and was overcome with emotion and tears.

As she and other nurses from 3 North walked to their cars, as they do at the end of every 12-hour shift, and as other nurses were walking into work, about 75 Collierville residents were gathered outside applauding and thanking the health care workers. They were thanking them for serving on the front lines as the coronavirus begins to affect more and more people.

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Gant said after 28 years as a nurse, some recommended she quit as more and more people were diagnosed with coronavirus.

“I’m not gonna quit,” she said she told them. “It’s so scary, but we’re in this to do what we do.”

She was amazed by the support, the thank you signs, the cheers, horn honks and applause.

“I have no words,” she said as she looked at them and held back more tears.

She wasn’t the only nurse overcome with emotion. Shortly before shift change, some nurses in surgical masks stepped outside to wave at the residents gathered.

“Our worried souls have been heavy and seeing (residents) cheering us on brought tears to my eyes and reminded us of why we do what we do,” ER nurse Tiffany Fullerton said.

As nurses trickled in and out of the hospital for shift change, they waved and said “thank you” as the those cheering them said “thank you” right back.

Nurse Cathy Opfer said the thanks gave her and other nurses “a whole new energy.”

“I’ve been doing this 28 years and not seen nothing like this,” she said. “They care and notice what we’re doing in the medical field.”

She and a few other nurses had heard there was going to be some sort of thanks when they left for the evening.

“But seeing it made me cry,” said Amanda MacDonnchadh, another nurse.

They didn’t expect the outpouring from so many.

“I don’t want to leave,” MacDonnchadh said, noting the feeling of support it gave her.

“It’s surreal,” nurse Jennifer Bell added. “They showed out for us, so we’ll show out for them.”

The Collierville residents who sat in the town’s hospital employee parking lot were of all ages.

Staci Jones brought her three children with her.

“I know it’s important for them to realize what (medical workers) are doing,” she said, noting her mother spent 45 years working in the ER. “I want my kids to appreciate that.”

“They’re important to us and done so much to help us all and keep us safe,” daughter Annsley Jones 10, said. 

Her brother Auston said he wanted to come because the medical workers were helping “keep coronavirus at bay.”

And 14-year-old Ella Jones said the nurses help everyone get through illness.

“Nurses and doctors have a huge impact every day,” she said.

While many came with families, some came alone with their own signs.

“Every time I see a nurse on Facebook, it makes me cry,” Renda Craig said, noting she wanted to spend a little time thanking the nurses.

Christine Manzo, an emergency room nurse, also cried after she got off, noting it made her feel “appreciated and honored.”

“We don’t always have a pleasant job and sometimes it’s downright dirty and difficult both physically and emotionally,” she said. “We deal with life and death on a daily basis. We can’t always save everyone that comes through our doors but we try our very hardest ... Sometimes we don’t know if we want to come back the next day. But we do for (the community).” 

She said she cried on her drive home “just knowing that our community cares for us like we care for them.”

Editor’s Note: The Daily Memphian is making our coronavirus coverage accessible to all readers — no subscription needed. Our journalists continue to work around the clock to provide you with the extensive coverage you need; if you can subscribe, please do

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Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.

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